CYCLING is one of the sporting disciplines that was devastated by the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which claimed over one million lives in just a hundred days.
As the country commemorates the Genocide, Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) has not been left out. Cycling officials have said that this year’s Race To Remember is scheduled for June 6 and it will be contested by top riders from all local cycling clubs in three categories – elite men, elite women and juniors.
Ferwacy says that at least eight members of the cycling fraternity were killed during the Genocide, including Anselme Sakumi, the former vice president of the local cycling governing body.
Others include a mechanic, Gasatu, and six cyclists, four men and two female riders.
In an interview with Times Sport yesterday, Emmanuel Murenzi, the permanent secretary of the national cycling federation, said that they are still gathering information about more members who could have lost their lives during the Genocide.
The country’s flagship cycling event ‘Tour du Rwanda’ was first held in 1991 but the sport started to see real progress from 2006 when Team Rwanda Cycling came into existence.
Several Genocide survivors were part of the country’s cycling team created in 2006, under the tutelage of American cycling legend Jonathan Boyer, which marked the beginning of the rise of Rwanda cycling.
Today, Rwanda is the second highest ranked cycling country in Africa after Eritrea, while Rwanda’s Joseph Areruya tops individual rankings as Africa’s best cyclist.
Ferwacy organised the first Genocide Memorial Race, also known as the ‘Race to Remember’, in 2015. No cyclist has managed to win the race more than once.
Former national team captain Janvier Hadi won the inaugural edition in 2015, reigning national champion Patrick Bukusenge claimed the second edition, while Bonaventure Uwizeyimana won the 2017 edition.
Uwizeyimana won last year’s edition after covering a distance of 155km in 4 hours, 17 minutes and 22 seconds, beating his closest rival Jean Claude Uwizeye by close to 2 minutes.