Youngster Mugisha aims high after extending deal with DiData

Tour du Rwanda 2018 champion Samuel Mugisha celebrates on crossing the finish line during the race. Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwanda international cyclist Samuel Mugisha is hoping to cap another successful season with his UCI Continental Club – Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka – after extending his contract by one season.

The reigning Tour du Rwanda champion signed a contract extension with the South African Italy-based club last week, which will see him riding for them till end of the 2019 season.

This will be the rider’s third season with Dimension Data for Qhubeka.

Mugisha’s contract extension has come less than two months after he won this year’s Tour du Rwanda after setting a race record as the youngest – at 20 years and 250 days – rider to win the annual UCI Africa Tour race. It was the event’s last edition under the UCI 2.2 category.

“I extended my contract by one more season, I am very happy to keep riding and growing with Dimension Data. The 2018 season has been very great and the contract extension trust is a huge motivation to keep working hard and aiming for higher achievements,” said the former Club Benediction rider in an exclusive interview with Times Sport on Tuesday.

Mugisha joined Dimension Data’s continental team in January 2017 along with compatriot Joseph Areruya (now with France’s UCI Professional Continental team Delko–Marseille Provence KTM) following an awe-inspiring performance during the 2017 Tour du Rwanda when he emerged as the best climber while making his debut appearance.

Areruya, who was then riding for Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana, finished in fourth place in the general classification and won stage four (Rusizi-Huye, 140.7km), the longest stage of the race.

“This contract means a lot to my career because 2019 will be my last season in the U23 category, so it’s my do-or-die opportunity to fight for a place in the World Tour team. I must work harder than I ever did in the last two years,” he vowed.

The cycling sensation was crowned champion of the 10th Tour du Rwanda on August 12 after covering the 953.2km distance of the 8-stage race in 24 hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds.

Mugisha entered this year’s tour just three weeks after scooping the King of the Mountains jersey at the 55th edition of Giro della Valle d’Aosta race in Italy.