MOISE Mugisha has become a household name in just eight months since making his Tour du Rwanda debut in August 2018. He finished tenth in general classification.
Thanks to the new generation of exciting riders, the sport of cycling is currently on the rise in Rwanda, and Mugisha is widely seen as a champion in the making.
Today, Saturday Sport profiles the 21-year old rider, the highly ambitious youngster who is tipped by many as a future cycling superstar for country and continent.
The rise of Mugisha has also coincided with the rise of Skol Brewery-sponsored Fly Cycling Club, which is regarded as a team that boosts the most promising youngsters.
Mugisha finished Tour du Rwanda 2019 in the Rwanda Tea Jersey as the race’s most combative rider. File.
Not only does the club have Mugisha in their line-up, but they also have Jean Eric Habimana, 17, who won three medals at the 2017 African Track Championships in South Africa.
At the recently concluded African Continental Road Championships in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, Mugisha claimed two medals – gold and silver – while Habimana struck bronze before helping Renus Byiza Uhiriwe to bag gold in junior men’s road race.
Mugisha’s gold came from the Under-23’s Individual Time Trial (ITT) category.
But, who is Mugisha?
Born to Anastase Nzabarinda and Christine Uwamahoro on January 1, 1998 in Busogo Sector of Musanze District, in the Northern Province, Mugisha is the first born in a family of seven – four boys and three girls.
He attended to Ruhehe Primary School, and went to ES Busogo for secondary school before dropping out during his second year to concentrate on cycling, which he believes holds the key to his future.
The sensational rider’s passion cycling, he says, was largely inspired by Team Rwanda member and Benediction Club’s Patrick Byukusenge – winner of the 2017 Rwanda Cycling Cup.
He started believing that he can make it to the top of local Cycling in June 2017, thanks to Fly Cycling Club head coach Issa Ntibitura. Prior to his breakthrough, Mugisha transported people and produce for a living in his home district, for almost two years.
“Issa [Ntibitura] knew me since I was a kid, and had heard that I loved cycling, but had never seen riding. So one day he called me for trials with Fly Cycling, and said I would be signed if I impressed,” Mugisha vividly recalls.
“I spent the new few days training as if my life depended on that opportunity, and thankfully I landed the deal.”
Mugisha, who was awarded as the most combative rider at the 2018 Tour du Rwanda earlier this month, was signed along with Ally Dukuzumuremyi and Jean Eric Habimana.
After a year of hard work and acclimating to competitive cycling, Mugisha finally tasted the limelight last October when he put up a stunning performance to dominate Karongi Challenge, one the eleven races that comprised the year-round 2018 Rwanda Cycling Cup.
He won the 116km ride in 3 hours, 17 minutes and 47 seconds.
The following month, Mugisha was part of the Team Rwanda that competed at the inaugural Africa Nations Cup in Eritrea where he claimed bronze in U23 category of the men’s Individual Time Trial (ITT) after clocking 46 minutes and 41 seconds to cover the 38km parcours.
Last month, the cycling prodigy was Team Rwanda’s best rider at the 2019 Tour de l’Espoir in Cameroun where he displayed a solo effort to take the final (fifth) stage in spectacular fashion.
Eritrean Yacob Debesay was the champion, while his Team Eritrea were the overall winners as they qualified for this year’s Tour de l’Avenir in France. Rwanda won the race’s inaugural edition last year en route to becoming the first African team to race Tour de l’Avenir, also regarded as the U23 version of the famous Tour de France.
While marking his debut at the African Continental Road Championships in Ethiopia this month, Mugisha was not ready for a slow start as he scooped two medals; first a silver medal with Team Rwanda in Team Time Trial (TTT) before stepping up to strike gold in U23’s ITT section.
Realising Tour du Rwanda dream
“Racing Tour du Rwanda was always my dream, my debut felt surreal. I hope I win it one day, it would be a great accomplishment,” says Mugisha who finished tenth last year.
Despite finishing in 40th position at this year’s edition, which also marked Tour du Rwanda’s maiden edition in the UCI 2.1 category, Mugisha took home the Rwanda Tea jersey for most aggressive rider of the eight-stage race – that was won by Astana Pro Team’s Eritrean Merhawi Kudus.
Craving for Pro career
“Before I reach the retirement age, there are two things I want to achieve; riding for one of the best professional teams in the world and racing Tour de France,” said Mugisha, before adding “I believe God will help me accomplish it.”
Without disclosing details about his contract, or with which team, Mugisha revealed to this publication that he has secured a deal with one French side, and will be joining them in May.