For the first time a team that regularly competes at Tour de France will be racing in the annual Tour du Rwanda next year when the race will be staged for the first time as a 2.1 UCI Africa Tour event.
The development was confirmed to Saturday Sport on Friday by Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) president, Aimable Bayingana. But he declined to name the team in question.
Bayingana was last week unanimously elected as the new president of L’Union Francophone de Cyclisme, the cycling governing body of the International Organisation of La Francophonie.
He also revealed that, “The official road map for the first 2.1 edition of Tour du Rwanda will be revealed on November 15.”
The 2019 Tour du Rwanda will be the 11th edition since 2009 when the event got incorporated in the UCI Africa Tour calendar as an international cycling event. Next year’s race will run from February 24 through March 3.
This will be the first time that Tour du Rwanda will hosted early in the season, which is meant to facilitate big teams from all over the world to participate.
“What I can say today is that next year, we will have at least one team that competes at Tour de France making its debut here (Tour du Rwanda),” Bayingana told this publication.
“Starting with the 2019 season, Tour du Rwanda is going to be very competitive than it has ever been. We will reveal further details during the launch of the roadmap next month,” he added.
Tour du Rwanda’s upgrade will make it one of only two cycling events with a 2.1 UCI category badge on the continent, along with La Tropicale Amissa Bongo of Gabon.
This year, Samuel Mugisha – at 20 years and 250 days – registered a new record of the youngest rider to win Tour du Rwanda.
He is the fourth Rwandan to win the race since Valens Ndayisenga in 2014.