Sunday (Stage 1)
Kigali – Rwamagana – Kigali (114.4 km)
The 12th edition of the Tour du Rwanda, an international race since 2009, kicks off today, February 23 and will climax on Sunday, March 1.
The race has attracted 16 teams and a total of 80 riders representing a record 26 nationalities.
Of the 16 teams making this year’s peloton, Rwanda is represented by three teams, including the national team – also known as Team Rwanda – that comprises three former winners of the race.
Also, Rwanda is the most represented country with 15 riders, followed by Eritrea with nine.
On the opening day, the race flags off in the capital with Stage 1 and the riders will compete to a distance of 114.4km from Kigali to Rwamagana – in Eastern Province – and back to Kigali before quickly heading to Southern Province, in Huye District, in Stage 2 on Monday.
Under eight stages, including a 4.5km prologue at the infamous Wall of Kigali during Stage 7, will combine for a total distance of 899 kilometres. The race comprises 34 climbs, which make a combined elevation of 17.025km.
Stage 1 winner will go into Monday’s second stage wearing the Yellow Jersey, sponsored by Rwanda Tea, as the 120.5km stage is expected to be dominated by a mix of categorised climbs, flat terrain and steep descends.
Samuel Mugisha, the 2018 Tour du Rwanda, will captain Sterling Magnell’s five-man Team Rwanda that also comprises Jean Bosco Nsengimana, the 2015 winner, Joseph Areruya (2017 champion) along with Jean Claude Uwizeye and Bernabe Gahemba.
“It’s going to be a tough race, but we are fit and mentally ready. We want to start strongly, then take the competition one stage at a time. Our ultimate target is the Yellow Jersey,” Mugisha told Times Sport in an interview on Saturday.
This year marks the second time Tour du Rwanda is held under the UCI 2.1 category since its upgrade from 2.2 last year. Only Gabon’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, in Africa, shares the same category with Tour du Rwanda.
Eritrean Metkel Eyob, featuring for German side Bike Aid, is the rider with most stage wins (5) in this year’s peloton. Nsengimana, who is making his 10th Tour du Rwanda appearance, has four stage victories to his name.Follow https://twitter.com/pkamasa