Team Rwanda cyclists start early preps for inaugural Africa Cup

The reigning Tour du Rwanda champion, Samuel Mugisha (left), and reigning national champion Didier Munyaneza (right ) are part of the eight-rider team in camp at Africa Rising Cycling Center in Musanze. File photo.

The national cycling team has entered residential camp for early preparations ahead of the newly established Africa Cycling Cup. The first edition is slated for November 21-25 in Asmara, Eritrea.

The eight-man team reported to Musanze-based Africa Rising Cycling Center (ARCC) on Monday and the riders have since been training daily under the watchful eye of American trainer Sterling Magnell.

According to Emmanuel Murenzi, the Permanent Secretary of Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy), the event is aimed at raising the performance level of African riders and keeping them in shape for the following season.

“We are not 100 per cent sure that we will be able to participate yet, but we are optimistic, and that’s why we started preparations early. We hope the Ministry of Sports will support us in  travel expenses, our riders would learn and gain a lot from the competition,” said Murenzi.

In a separate interview, head coach Magnell said that among the riders in camp include reigning Tour du Rwanda champion Samuel Mugisha and his predecessor Joseph Areruya.

However, he underscored that Areruya has only joined the team for moral boost but will soon bid them farewell to start his annual holidays with his family in Kayonza District.

Other riders in training are; Samuel Hakiruwizeye, Didier Munyaneza, Eric Manizabayo, Moise Mugisha, Jean Damascene Rubwera and veteran Gasore Hategeka.

Asked about the current state of form for the cyclists in camp, Magneld said that three; Samuel Mugisha, Moise Mugisha and Eric Manizabayo, are in good shape but the rest still need to work hard.

He also revealed that France-based duo of Jean Claude Uwizeye and Valens Ndayisenga had been requested to join the team in training but were yet to report in camp.

Meanwhile, Rwanda has retained the top spot in UCI Africa U23 rankings with 875 points, leading second-placed Morocco (507) by 368 points while South Africa completes top three with 371 points.

Algeria (370) and Eritrea (262) are in fourth and fifth place, respectively.