Mixed fortunes for Team Rwanda at Tour de l’Avenir

Team Rwanda’s France-based Joseph Areruya scooped award for the most combative rider in Sunday’s Stage 10 (final stage) of Tour de l’Avenir. File photo

2018 Tour de l’Avenir

Top five
1. Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) 26h 28’ 53’’                                  
2. Thymen Arensman (Netherlands) 26h 30’ 21’’
3. Gino Mäder (Switzerland) 26h 30’ 28’’
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Russia) 26h 30’ 29’’
5. Clément Champoussin (France) 26h 30’ 49’’ 

73. Joseph Areruya 27h 11’ 28’’
76. Samuel Mugisha 27h 11’ 45’’

Exhaustion from Tour du Rwanda, flight fatigue and an unfamiliar environment combined to subdue Team Rwanda’s debut at Tour de l’Avenir.


Nonetheless, reigning La Tropicale Amissa Bongo champion Joseph Areruya scooped Stage 10’s most aggressive rider award, Africa’s first award at the prestigious event.


The 10-day world’s biggest U23 cycling race, which concluded Sunday, attracted a total of 156 riders from 26 teams, including some of the world’s cycling giants.


Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar emerged the winner of the French road bicycle racing stage race after posting 26 hours, 28 minutes and 53 seconds. 

He beat the first runner-up, Dutchman Thymen Arensmanby, by one minute and 28 seconds.

Team Rwanda, under coach Sterling Magnell, fielded six riders but only two; Areruya and Tour du Rwanda reigning champion Samuel Mugisha managed to finish the gruesome race.

Areruya finished in the 73rd position after using 27 hours, 11 minutes and 28 seconds, a total of 42 minutes and 35 seconds a drift the champion while Mugisha (27:11:45) finished in 76th spot.

The other four, including national champion Didier Munyaneza, Samuel Hakiruwizeye, Rene Ukiniwabo and Eric Manizabayo, bowed out of the race after Stage Three.

According to Magnell, the early exits and the under par general performance were largely as a result of fatigue and racing in a completely new environment.

“Fatigue from Tour du Rwanda may have played a minimal part, but it was worsened by the long travel and logistical inconveniences,” he told Times Sport yesterday.

“On the team presentation day, we were only able to acquire a team car for the race at the very last minute before nearly being late for rider confirmation,” he noted.

“Once the race had started, we had no way to transport all our bikes for both Time Trial and road race as well as the spares with us. Ultimately, one Steven Laget volunteered two hours before we got stranded on the morning of Stage 2,” Magnell observed.

“During stage 3 we lost Didier (Munyaneza) to sickness. Riders from Australia and Poland were suffering from something similar and I thought it was a bug that was probably going around. Manizabayo was in his first international race and he performed with amazing courage despite getting dropped.”

“Rene (Ukiniwabo) had a horrific crash. He’s fortunate not to have sustained more serious injuries while Hakiruwizeye was perhaps tired, and was struggling with the sharp learning curve at such a level,” the American trainer explained.

Team Rwanda made their debut just less than a week after competing at this year’s Tour du Rwanda, which was claimed by youngster Mugisha on August 12.

Team Rwanda is the first African team to race in Tour de l’Avenir, which they qualified for after winning the inaugural Tour de l’Espoir in February this year, in Cameroon.


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