Tour du Rwanda 2019: Tough day for Rwandans as Kudus wins another stage to extend lead -- PHOTOS

He is the first rider to win two consecutive Tour du Rwanda stages since 2011.

Stage 3 – select results

1. Merhawi Kudus (Astana) – 5:21:15
2. Rein Taaramae (Direct Energie) – 5:21:30
3. Matteo Badialatti (Israel Academy) – 5:21:58
4. Aguirre Ricardo (Interpro) – 5: 22:13
5. Rodrigo Contreras (Astana) – 5:29:17

10. Joseph Areruya (Delko Marseille) – 5:31:07
13. Valens Ndayisenga (Rwanda) – 5:31:07
15. Eric Manizabayo (Benediction) – 5:31:13

General Classification 

1. Merhawi Kudus – 11:05:04
2. Rein Taaramae – 11:05:21
3. Matteo Badialatti – 11:05:49
4. Aguirre Ricardo – 11:06:04
5. Rodrigo Contreras – 11:13:08

Rwandans

10. Joseph Areruya – 11:14:58
12. Valens Ndayisenga – 11:14:58
15. Eric Manizabayo – 11:15:27
18. Didier Munyaneza – 11:15:58
30. Samuel Mugisha – 11:25:29

Historic Stage 2 proved to be a tough day for home riders as Eritrean Merhawi Kudus, riding for Kazakh side Astana Pro Team, secured a second successive stage win to extend his lead in the yellow jersey at the ongoing 2019 Tour du Rwanda.

Kudus, also the winner of Monday’s Stage 2, continued his impressive form on Tuesday to win the longest stage in Tour du Rwanda’s history from Huye to Rubavu after using 5 hours, 21 minutes and 15 seconds to cover the 213.1-kilometre distance.

The 25-year-old was part of a four-man group – along with Rein Taaramae, Matteo Badialatti and Ricardo Aguirre – that escaped the peloton at 10km mark from the finish before making a solo effort to finish alone in Rubavu town.

He did not only keep the yellow jersey, but also stretched his lead at the summit from two to seventeen seconds.

Kudus, a 2015 Tour de France participant with South African side Dimension Data, is the first rider to record back-to-back stage wins in Tour du Rwanda since 2011 when American Reijnen Kiel claimed the opening prologue and four stages in a row en route to winning the race.

Joseph Areruya still holds the RDB jersey as the best Rwandan rider

In a gruesome stage that featured 4,591m of climbing, home boys failed to live up to their status as hosts and winners of the last five editions with Joseph Areruya finishing in 10th position – and a whopping 9 minutes and 52 seconds behind Kudus – as the best Rwandan rider of the day.

With the frustrating performance, the 2017 Tour du Rwanda winner and reigning African Cyclist of the Year, Areruya dropped from third to tenth spot in general classification, level at 11:14:58 with Valens Ndayisenga who stands in 13th place.

The president of Tour du Rwanda technical jury during Tuesday's Stage 3 from Huye to Rubavu

However, in particular, it was a day to forget for defending champion Samuel Mugisha as the 21-year old finished 33rd, and as a result dropped from tenth to 30th in general classification.

In an exclusive interview with Times Sport after Stage 3, Ndayisenga admitted that winning the race was ‘almost out of reach’ for him and his compatriots before noting that his priority was to fight for stage victories.

Fans did not disappoint.

“Today was so hard,” said the two-time winner, adding that “I would be lying if I said that we (Rwandans) are still in the chase for the yellow jersey. I am now focused on stage victories.”

READ ALSO: Tour du Rwanda 2019: Could this be the end of dominance for home riders? 

The Eritrea international, Kudus, is making his first Tour du Rwanda appearance since his 2012 debut as an 18-year old youngster when he won the opening stage from Kigali to Nyagatare.

Two-time Tour du Rwanda winner Valens Ndayisenga during Stage 3 yesterday

Speaking to publication on Tuesday, he said: “It is a fantastic feeling for us (Astana Pro Team) to lead the race, and particularly for me who is in the yellow jersey. We need to stay put and focus on the remaining stages.”

The race heads to Karongi District on Wednesday where the cyclists will ride the Kivu Belt road in a 102.6km Stage 4 from Rubavu.

editorial@newtimesrwanda.com

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