Sports Ministry tips Team Rwanda for Amissa Bongo glory

Former Tour du Rwanda champions Samuel Mugisha (L) and Joseph Areruya lead Team Rwanda at this year's La Tropicale Amissa Bongo. File

Stage 1: Jan. 20: Bitam – Ebolowa (150 km)
Stage 2: Jan. 21: Bitam – Oyem (110 km)
Stage 3: Jan. 22: Mitzic – Ndjolé (180 km)
Stage 4: Jan. 23: Lambaréné – Mouila (190 km)
Stage 5: Jan. 24: Lambaréné – Kango (145 km)
Stage 6: Jan. 25: Port Gentil – Port Gentil (130 km)
Stage 7: Jan. 26: Nkok – Libreville (130 km) 

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Sports, Didier Shema Maboko, has tipped Team Rwanda to shine at the 2020 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo race, which gets underway Monday.

The Gabonese race, one of the only two African cycling events – along with Tour du Rwanda – with a UCI 2.1 category badge, will run through January 26.

While flagging the team off on Thursday, Shema reminded the riders that they had the necessary quality and experience to bring home coveted Yellow Jersey again.

The 15th edition of the annual race, with a record distance of 1,035 kilometres, will also traverse to some part of neighbouring Cameroon.

“You have all it takes to win,” Shema told the Rwandan delegation before flying to Gabon on Thursday night. “You are a fantastic team with many victories and Yellow Jerseys from different international races, we are confident in you.”

“We, as the Ministry, are behind you. The Rwandans are behind you. Go make us proud.”

Captained by Samuel Mugisha – the 2018 Tour du Rwanda champion, the six-man team also comprises Joseph Areruya, winner of the 2017 Tour du Rwanda and the 2018 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo.

Also on the team is Didier Munyaneza who won the 2019 Tour du Sénégal in November, Jean-Claude Nzafashwanayo, who claimed the 2018 Tour de la RD Congo in August, as well as Renus Byiza Uhiriwe and Moise Mugisha who struck gold medals at the 2019 African Continental Road Championships in Ethiopia last March.

In his send-off message, Rwanda Cycling Federation’s president, Abdallah Murenzi, said: “This is a big race, and the competition is going to be stiff. But, you are trained for tough races."

Courtesy of his historic 2018 victory in Gabon, Areruya was voted as the African Cyclist of the Year. He is the only Rwandan rider to ever win the accolade.

The 23-year-old is one of the only two former winners – along with Eritrean Natnael Berhane – in this year’s 90-rider peloton, with a representation of 17 nationalities.

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