Team Rwanda Cycling coach Sterling Magnell has said that local riders still have a long way to go before winning medals in world championships.
The American trainer’s comment comes just days before the 92nd UCI Road World Championships gets underway in Yorkshire, England, from September 22 to 29. Rwanda will have four riders at this year’s world championships.
This is despite Rwanda’s remarkable rise among the continent’s cycling giants over the last decade, along with other great cycling nations such as South Africa, Eritrea, Algeria and Morocco.
“There is a long way to go for our riders to be able to win medals in world championships,” said Magnell. “We need to rethink strategies, and work on long-term goals. There is no shortcut.”
Of the four riders who will represent the country at the Yorkshire championships, two are training in Europe while the other two train at Musanze-based Africa Rising Cycling Centre (ARCC).
Samuel Mugisha and Renus Byiza Uhiriwe embarked on intensive training under Magnell’s guidance at ARCC on Tuesday, while Jean Eric Habimana and Moise Mugisha are based in Switzerland and France, respectively.
Magnell stressed that Rwanda would soon be a cycling force to reckon with if her best talents earned professional teams in Europe and young ones get more time in high performance centres and get consistent exposure in challenging competitions.
“Opportunities and high level competitions are limited, not only in Rwanda but also on the continent. Our talents need more challenging races, consistently.”
After 98 years since the inaugural UCI Road World Championships, no black African rider has ever won a medal at the world’s biggest cycling showpiece.
“We can no longer congratulate ourselves for simply participating in world championships, or Olympic Games. We should graduate from this level and start thinking of winning medals.
Habimana will link up with teammates in England on the heels of 11 weeks of specialised training at Switzerland-based UCI highperformance centre, and several high level races in Europe.