The national cycling team, Team Rwanda, had a trip to forget at this year’s second edition of the annual Colorado Classic that ended yesterday in Denver, United States.
Competing at the 2.HC UCI race category for the second successive time as the only African and only national team competitions, they endured one of their worst campaigns in ten or so years.
The four-stage race started on August 16, through August 19 in Denver.
The six-man team, coached by Felix Sempoma, went into the race less than 72 hours after competing at this year’s Tour du Rwanda, and following a series of long haul flights to the US.
Only one rider; Jean Bosco Nsengimana, managed to survive Stage One (103.2km) on Thursday.
The remaining five riders, including Valens Ndayisenga, Jean Claude Uwizeye, Janvier Hadi, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana and Patrick Byukusenge finished out of the time limit.
Nsengimana finished in the 70th position clocking six minutes and thirty three seconds adrift the stage winner.
“In over 10 years of racing, Team Rwanda has never had such a difficult day in the saddle. Many of you have followed the travel sagas of getting to this race.
It took 56 hours and 8 time zones to arrive at the start line, with some of the riders arriving at 7:30pm on the night before,” a statement from Africa Rising Cycling about the under par showing, reads in part.
“They had not been on their bikes since Monday after an 8-day Tour of Rwanda.”
The statement further reads, “We don’t make excuses, it’s simply the realities of our world, with travel being an everyday obstacle coming out of Africa. The race (Stage 1) was fast from the first lap and coming through the feed zone on lap 1 we saw they were struggling. By Lap 5 several were at the end of the convoy, by Lap 6 Jean Claude was vomiting and pulled off.”
“By the end, only Jean Bosco (Nsengimana) remained. All of us, staff and riders, are still in shock. We are tired, frustrated, sad and embarrassed. We all know we are better than what we showed and that is what makes this so difficult.”
However, during Stage 3 on Saturday, the 2015 Tour du Rwanda champion Nsengimana pulled out of the race to bring Team Rwanda’s campaign to an end at the highly rated race.
Last year, Team Rwanda finished in 15th position out of the 16 teams that participated.
Uwizeye was the best performer then, in the 47th spot out of 84 riders who managed to finish the race.