Following the conclusion of the Tour de l’Avenir, Team Rwanda Cycling head coach Sterling Magnell has something to say: A bigger budget and commitment from both the Ministry of Sports and the cycling federation can break new ground for the team’s success on global scene.
From August 17-26, the national U23 cycling team made a historic debut at the 55th edition of the annual Tour de l’Avenir, the world’s biggest U23 cycling race, which is the biggest race of its stature that Team Rwanda has competed in since its establishment some 15 years ago.
While Rwanda fielded six talented riders, only two; Joseph Areruya and Samuel Mugisha managed to finish the gruesome race. The rest dropped out from Stage 3.
Africa’s top-rated Areruya is the 2017 Tour du Rwanda champion, while this year’s winner Mugisha, at 20 years and 250 days, is the youngest cyclist to win the race.
Areruya finished in the 73rd position after using 27 hours, 11 minutes and 28 seconds, a total of 42 minutes and 35 seconds a drift the champion while Mugisha (27:11:45) finished in 76th spot.
The former South Africa’s Dimension Date for Qhubeka rider Areruya put up a spirited fight to scoop Stage 10’s most aggressive rider award, Africa’s only award at the prestigious event.
“U23 racing is the trickiest and most difficult peloton in the world. Every rider is determined to become professional. Many risks are taken, many crashes occur and the pace is at maximum from the start to the finish,” American trainer Magnell told Times Sport Tuesday.
“Racing in Europe requires strong commitment of staff, quite a big budget, vehicles and other logistics. With the limited means we had, we did our best but certainly the inconveniences, accompanied by stress, had a profound effect on all of us,” he underlined.
Magnell, who has been with Team Rwanda since 2016, further disclosed; “Team Rwanda has a lot of work to do to become competitive at this (Tour de l’Avenir) level.
I believe our athletes have the talent and strength to shine but nothing can replace the practice and experience of doing more of these raves over time. The world championships are too small of a learning window every year to provide a foundation for progress.”
“In order for us to enter this arena successfully we will require more funding and strong commitment the Ministry of Sports and cycling federation,” he stressed.
Team Rwanda is the first African team to race in Tour de l’Avenir, which they qualified for after winning the inaugural Tour de l’Espoir in February this year, in Cameroon.