With less than 72 hours to the start of the 2018 Tour du Rwanda, Africa’s cycling giants Eritrea have pulled out at last minute, and were immediately replaced by Cameroon’s SNH Velo Club.
The development was confirmed by Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) on Thursday via Tour du Rwanda’s official twitter handle.
“We can confirm that Team Eritrea will not take part in this year’s #TdRwanda due to lack of funds for traveling expenses! They have been replaced by the SNH Velo Club of Cameroun! Since 2009 Eritrea have won the most stages (19) than any other country at #TdRwanda.”
In the last decade, Team Eritrea Cycling have registered more victories than any other side in UCI Africa Tour races – including the 2010 Tour du Rwanda, which was won by Eritrea international and Cofidis (French cycling club) rider Daniel Teklehaimanot.
Besides the record stage wins (19), Eritrea’s Eyob Metkel has the most stage wins (5) in the race, a record he shares with two-time Tour du Rwanda champion Valens Ndayisenga.
Kudus Merhawi, another Eritrean, holds the record of the youngest (18 years and 300 days) rider to win a stage in Tour du Rwanda – he claimed Stage 1 (Kigali – Nyagatare ) of the 2012 edition.
The 24-year old finished second in the last two editions, first behind Ndayisenga in 2016 and behind Joseph Areruya last year.
Eritrea is fourth on the list of countries with the most number of different riders competing at Tour du Rwanda, 28, behind Rwanda which has a total of 44, South Africa (37) and France 30.