Full race roadmap
Stage one:Douala – Douala (92km)
Stage two:Yaoundé –Nanga– Eboko (152km)
Stage three:Yaoundé – Ebolowa (151km)
Stage four:Samgmélima – Meyomessala (134km)
Stage five:Sangmélima – Yaoundé (170km)
THE national cycling team (Team Rwanda) assistant coach, Felix Sempoma, has urged his riders to yet again prove that they are a force to reckon with on the continent when they compete at the forthcoming 2018 Grand Prix Chantal Biya in Cameroon.
Sempoma, who doubles as the head coach of local amateur team Benediction Club, will guide Team Rwanda at the 18th edition of the annual 2.2 UCI Africa Tour race, which gets underway on September 26. The five-stage race will conclude on September 30 in Yaoundé.
Following recent triumphant campaigns in several African races, Sempoma has said that Team Rwanda will be seeking to dominate another race in Cameroon this year following Joseph Areruya’s win at Tour de l’Espoir and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana’s Tour du Cameroun victory.
“Chantal Biya GP is a very difficult race that attracts some big teams on the continent, and guest teams from Europe. Nonetheless, our target remains to win the race like we have been doing in other recent races on the continent,” Sempoma said in an exclusive interview with Times Sport on Thursday.
In the last five races that Team Rwanda raced in on the continent, Rwandan riders have won four, including La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon and Tour de l’Espoir, both by Areruya, and Tour du Cameroun, which was claimed by Bonaventure Uwizeyimana. Samuel Mugisha, 20, scooped the 10th edition of Tour du Rwanda last month.
The Rwanda roster that will represent the country in the race will be led by experienced duo of former Tour du Rwanda champion Jean Bosco Nsengimana and this year’s Tour du Cameroun winner, Uwizeyimana.
They will be joined by Janvier Rugamba, Eric Manizabayo, and Michel Uwiduhaye to form a five-rider line up.
Nsengimana is the sole rider on the team with a Grand Prix Chantal Biya stage win.
“We have experienced riders in Nsengimana and Uwizeyimana on the team as well as three rookies, it’s an able combination to win the race. The three young riders are marking their debut on international scene,” Sempoma further noted.
He also revealed that the team has been undergoing rigorous training at Africa rising Cycling Center, in Musanze, since last week. The intensive preparations will conclude on Sunday before the team’s departure for Cameroon on Monday.
Team Rwanda will be making their first appearance in the race since 2016. The organizers did not invite Rwanda at last year’s edition.
During the 2016 race, Team Rwanda finished second in team classification, behind Cameroon’s SNH Vélo Club. Nsengimana was Rwanda’s best rider, in 11th place, in general classification and third in the Under-23 category.
Then riding for German side Stradalli Bike Aid, Nsengimana put up a commanding performance to win Stage 4 while then 18-year old Samuel Mugisha finished third in the stage.
At their debut appearance, in 2015, Team Rwanda also finished second, behind Morocco.