SAMUEL Mugisha is delighted at his recent nomination for the African Cycling of the Year award, whose winner will be announced on December 21.
The 20-year-old is vying for the coveted award with 14 other cyclists.
Organisers of Gabonese race La Tropicale Amissa Bongo released the 15-man short-list of contenders for the award on Sunday.
While compatriot Joseph Areruya is the favourite to scoop the award – which would make him the first Rwandan to do so since its establishment in 2012 – Mugisha is delighted to be among the nominees.
“I am happy to be among the top 15 African riders, the recognition shows that I am on the right path if I keep working hard,” Mugisha told Times Sport.
The reigning Tour du Rwanda champion made it to the shortlist along with two more Rwandan riders; Bonaventure Uwizeyimana who won the 2018 Tour du Cameroun in July and Africa’s top-rated Areruya who plies his trade with French side Delko–Marseille Provence KTM.
Areruya, 22, is the reigning La Tropicale Amissa Bongo champion and winner of the inaugural Tour de l’Espoir which was held in February in Cameroon.
Mugisha rides for South Africa’s Italy-based Dimension Data for Qhubeka while Uwizeyimana features for Rwanda’s powerhouse Benediction Club.
Known for his climbing prowess, Mugisha defied the odds to set a new Tour du Rwanda record this year as he claimed it aged 20 years and 250 days – the youngest rider to do so.
He became the fourth Rwandan to win the race after Valens Ndayisenga (2014, 2016), Jean Bosco Nsengimana (2015) and Areruya in 2017.
The African Cyclist of the Year award was initiated in 2012 with the aim to reward the rider who, through his performance on the continent and beyond, has contributed the most in making the African cycling more known.
The jury to vote the successor of South African Louis Meintjess for the award is chaired by Bernard Hinault, a five-time Tour de France winner, and also includes sports directors, a select African riders and coaches as well as a number of African and European journalists.
Eritrean Natnael Berhane lifted the inaugural edition’s award in 2012, Louis Meintjes won it 2013 and was dethroned by Eritrea’s Mekseb Debesay in 2014. Daniel Teklehaimanot in 2015 and Tesfom Okubamariam in 2016.
Last year, Meintjes made history when he became the first rider to win the award twice following his 2013 debut triumph.
The list of 15 riders nominated for this year’s award is dominated by Rwanda, South Africa and Eritrea – with three candidates each.
Full 15-man shortlist
1. Cisse Isiaka Ivory Coast
2. De Bod Stefan South Africa
3. Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier Eritrea
4. Hendrickx Clint South Africa
5. Impey Daryl South Africa
6. Kamzong Clovis Cameroon
7. Kipkemboi Salim Kenya
8. Kudus Merhawi Eritrea
9. Lagab Azzedine Algeria
10. Henok Mulubrhan Eritrea
11. Reguigui Youcef Algeria
12. Sorgho Mathias Burkina Faso
13. Samuel Mugisha Rwanda
14. Bonaventure Uwizeyimana Rwanda
15. Joseph Areruya Rwanda