Tour du Rwanda 2020: Rwandan riders switch focus to ‘critical’ Stage 2

Fedorov Yevgeniy, 20, launched a strong solo attack en route to his historic victory as the first Kazakh rider to win a stage in Tour du Rwanda. Courtesy

Monday
Stage 2: Kigali – Huye (120.5km)

Sunday (Stage 1)

Top five
1. Fedorov Yevgeniy (Astana Motors) – 2:44:59
2. Henok Mulueberhan (Eritrea) – 2:45:14
3. Hailu Biniam (Delko Provence) – 2:45:17
4. Quintero Carlos (Terengganu) – 2:45:19
5. Patrick Byukusenge (Rwanda, Benediction) - 2:45:20

Select results of other Rwandans
8. Joseph Areruya (Rwanda) – 2:45:25
13. Moise Mugisha (SACA) – 2:45:28
20. Eric Manizabayo (Benediction) – 2:45:28
26. Jean-Eric Habimana (SACA) – 2:45:42
28. Shemu Nsengiyumva (SACA) – 2:45:45
33. Didier Munyaneza (Benediction) – 2:45:45
35. Samuel Mugisha (Rwanda) – 2:45:50
53. Jean-Bosco Nsengimana (Rwanda) – 2:46:24

Patrick Byukusenge, Ignite Benediction rider, is optimistic about Rwanda’s chances as Stage 2 takes the Tour du Rwanda 2020 to Southern Province, in Huye District on Monday.

 

The riders will battle it out to a 120.km distance, setting off from Kigali at MIC building, downtown.

 

Byukusenge, 28, finished as the best Rwandan rider in fifth position during Sunday’s Stage 1 after using 2 hours, 45 minutes and 20 seconds – 21 seconds off stage winner – to cover the 114.4km ride from Kigali Arena to Rwamagana and back.

 

“It was not the best start, but we did not do very badly either. There is room for improvement, we need to continue working and see how it goes with Stage 2,” Byukusenge told Times Sport after Stage 1.

Making his eighth Tour du Rwanda appearance since the 2013 debut, Byukusenge further noted: “Stage 2 is critical, we have to give it our very best.”

Reigning champion Merhawi Kudus went on to clinch the 2019 Yellow Jersey after winning Stage 2, which was also the case in 2018 when Samuel Mugisha claimed the Kigali–Huye stage en route to his historic victory.

Joseph Areruya, winner of the 2017 Tour du Rwanda, also looks to stage up a strong performance in Stage 2 following his 8th position in the opening stage. He finished 26 seconds behind now-race-leader Fedorov Yevgeniy who is riding for Kazakh side Vino–Astana Motors.

“Stage 1 was proof that this year’s race is going to be tough – as was expected. We need to step up,” Areruya appealed to his Team Rwanda teammates in an interview this publication yesterday, February 23.

Courtesy of his victory, Fedorov, did not only take accolades for stage winner and coveted Yellow Jersey for the general classification leader, but the 20-year old was also the best climber, best sprinter and the best young rider of Stage 1.

Rwanda’s Renus Byiza Uhiriwe took the jersey for the most combative rider, Byukusenge settled for the best Rwandan rider’s jersey, while Eritrean Henok Mulueberhan – who finished second – was the best African rider.

Uhiriwe, 19, who finished in an off-putting 58th spot, was part of the three-man leading group for nearly two hours, along with Mongolian Maral-Erdene Batmunkh and Fedorov before he failed to keep up and later overwhelmed by the peloton.

At the halfway mark, 57km, the trio had 10 and 15 seconds on the peloton, the biggest gap of the stage before it was reduced to 6 minutes at 80km.

“This is a promising start,” Fedorov told reporters after winning Stage 1.

“Staying in Yellow will be tough, but I take it as a good challenge. Winning Tour du Rwanda on my debut appearance in the race would be an incredible achievement for me.”

pkamasa@newtimesrwanda.com

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