Tough start for Rwandan riders at Tour de Limpopo

Jean Bosco Nsengimana (L), Didier Munyaneza (2nd-L), Eric Manizabayo (2nd-R) and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana (R) are part of the six-man Benediction Club roster in South Africa. / File

Rwandan cyclists have had a nightmare start to their bid for yellow jersey at the ongoing Tour de Limpopo, in South Africa, after none of the country’s representatives managed a top-five finish in the first two days of the race.

Brown Connor, who riders for Dimension Data for Qhubeka, of South Africa, won the 96.6km Stage 2 of the four-day race on Thursday with a time of 2:16:46, pedaling from Polokwane to Tzaneen.

The winner came tally of time with Hendricks Clint of Protouch, Konychev Alexander and DiData teammate Battistella Samuele, while Visser Louis, of Teg Procycling Team, completed top five.

Former Tour du Rwanda winner Samuel Mugisha, featuring for Dimension Data, finished in tenth position, and the 21-year old was the best among seven Rwandans making their debut in the UCI 2.2 Africa Tour race.

Benediction Excel Energy’s Jean Claude Nzafashwanayo, Eric Manizabayo and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana came in the 18th, 19th and 41st spots, respectively, all trailing the stage winner by 1 minutes and 11 seconds

Reigning national champions Didier Munyaneza settled for 55th, while Tour du Rwanda 2015 champion Jean Bosco Nsengimana was 86th.

The third stage, on Friday, will be racing from Tzaneen to Coachman’s Climb (Mt. Agatha) with a steep climb and double points for KOM on a 101km distance, whilst Saturday’s fourth, and final, stage from Tzaneen to Polokwane will be 116km long before the riders cross the finish-line at the Peter Mokaba Stadium. 

Meanwhile on Wednesday, defending champion Gustav Basson won the opening stage with Alexander Konychev (Dimension Data) finishing second, while Marc Pritzen (Office Guru) came third. Manizabayo posted a team-best 24th position.

Benediction Club’s technical director, Simon Hupperetz, says that his riders have found it hard to cope with strange geographical conditions, but “it is a good learning experience.”

“The wide roads and the cross winds are not the conditions we’re used to in Rwanda. These race conditions are excellent learning experiences for our young riders. However, the race is not over, and we’ll keep riding offensively,” he said.

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