Didier Munyaneza was crowned as the first Rwandan to win Tour du Sénégal after bravely negotiating the seventh and ultimate stage – ten laps in Dakar – on Sunday.
It is the first international victory for the 21-year old who hung onto the Yellow Jersey since Stage 2 last Monday.
BREAKING: Didier Munyaneza (@DidierMbappe) wins the 2019 Tour du Senegal.— The New Times (Sports) (@TimesSportRW) November 17, 2019
At 21, he becomes the first and only Rwandan rider to win the race. It’s also his first international victory. ???? pic.twitter.com/83TOT4RLfd
Following the victory, many people – including high ranking government officials – took to Twitter to congratulate the youngster for ‘doing the country proud’ in Sénégal.
Vincent Biruta, the foreign affairs minister, tweeted: “Congratulations Didier Munyaneza for winning the 2019 Tour du Senegal! As the first Rwandan to win the race, you have represented your country well and made us all very proud. Félicitations et bravo!”
Congratulations Didier Munyaneza for winning the 2019 Tour du Senegal! As the first Rwandan to win the race, you have represented your country well and made us all very proud. Félicitations et bravo! pic.twitter.com/26CZv1PTku— Vincent Biruta (@Vbiruta) November 17, 2019
Representing Rwanda’s only internationally recognised cycling club, Benediction Excel Energy, Munyaneza is only the second black African rider to win the race and the first since 2010. He succeeds Dan Craven who clinched the 17th edition of the race last year.
While results were yet to be released by press time Sunday, Munyaneza went into the final stage with a 15-second lead and stayed out of trouble throughout the stage despite a tire puncture half the 106km circuit that was quickly fixed to rejoin the group.
His triumph ends years of failed attempts by Rwandan riders, with all the previous editions under the national team ‘Team Rwanda’ brand. This was Benediction’s first appearance in the race.
However, Munyaneza was not new in the West African country’s race having finished fifth in the best young riders’ classification last year.
He ends the year on a high following a busy 2019 campaign in which he participated in eight international events and several local races under the year-round Rwanda Cycling Cup.