Team Rwanda riders rallied to step up ahead of World Champs

Tour du Rwanda 2017 winner Joseph Areruya during African Road Race Championships in Kigali in February, 2018. He will lead Team Rwanda at the forthcoming 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Austria. Sam Ngendahimana.

Sept 22-30

The 2018 UCI World Road Championships

Rwanda international Joseph Areruya has called on his compatriots to roll up their sleeves and prove their fast-rising status as a force to be reckoned with on the continent when Team Rwanda make their fourth consecutive appearance at the forthcoming 2018 UCI Road World Championships.

This year’s edition of the annual event is scheduled for September 22-30 in Innsbruck, Austria. It will be the 91st UCI Road World Championships, and the third to be held in Austria.

The current Africa’s number one in UCI Africa Tour individual ranking made the remarks on Monday in a telephone interview with Times Sport from France where he is training with his UCI Professional Continental team Delko–Marseille Provence KTM.

The former Dimension Data for Qhubeka (feeder team) rider will lead Team Rwanda contingent to Innsbruck. He will be joined by former teammate and Tour du Rwanda reigning champion Samuel Mugisha, the only two other foreign-based rider on the team.

Mugisha, 20, is training in Italy with his South African side Dimension Data’s continental team.

Joining the famous Europe-based duo is Didier Munyaneza, the national champion. The U23 line-up is completed by Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo and Samuel Hakiruwizeye.

In addition, two riders; Jean Eric Habimana and Renus Byiza and Uhiriwe will compete in the men’s junior category.

“We have been competing there but the results were really below average, and most of the times, we even failed to finish the races. But going forward, as Team Rwanda, we don’t want to have the ‘Did Not Finish’ mark in our results again. We know the countries and riders that participate there, it’s quite hard to target a podium finish but we can absolutely do better than we ever did in previous editions,” the 2017 Tour du Rwanda winner said.

The La Tropicale Amissa Bongo title holder will be Team Rwanda’s most experienced rider in the UCI World Road Championships as he gears up for a third consecutive appearance since his debut at the 2016 edition in Doha, Qatar.

“I think it’s better we set pace and set the bar very high for the next group of riders who will be representing Rwanda in the World Championships, so that they can come targeting to beat our achievement and possibly win medals,” he added.

Last month, Areruya made a historic debut with Team Rwanda at the prestigious Tour de l’Avenir and despite the team’s modest performance, Areruya scooped Stage 10’s most aggressive rider award – Africa’s first and only award at the ten-stage prestigious event.

“I am always seeking to do my best. Whenever I get on the road peddling, I am always eager to do better than the previous day, just like I did at Tour de l’Avenir. I went there hoping to finish in the best position but when I lost some of my teammates, I tried a lot of breakaways to at least snatch one award, which helped me to take Stage 10’s Most Aggressive Rider’s jersey.”

“I also want to try it at the World Championships,” he vowed.

Meanwhile, the duo of Ukiniwabo and Munyaneza have stayed in France where they are reportedly training with amateur club Pays Olonne Cycliste Côte de Lumière (POCCL), which boasts two Rwandan cyclists Valens Ndayisenga and Jean Claude Uwizeye.

Only Samuel Hakizimana and the juniors are currently in training camp at the Africa Rising Cycling Centre in Musanze, and will link up with the rest of team in Innsbruck.

Team Rwanda will compete only in the U23 category and juniors’ category.

The winner in each category competed for at the annual event is entitled to wear the rainbow jersey in races of that category, either in mass start or time trial, until the next championships.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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