Four foreign international teams have confirmed their riders who will battle for honours at the ninth edition of Tour du Rwanda expected to start on Sunday, November 12, 2017 at Amahoro Stadium.
This year’s edition will get underway from November 12 to 19 attracting a total of 17 teams including six national teams, six UCI Continental teams and five club teams.
Among the teams that have joined Rwanda in announcing their squad of riders vying for honours include; Eritrea, Germany’s Bike Aid, South Africa’s Dimension Data and Canada’s LowestRates.ca Cycling Team.
Team Dimension data is composed of five riders, two of which are Rwandans namely Mugisha Samuel and Areruya Joseph who will be alongside 2016 first runner-up Eyob Metkel from Eritrea and South African duo of Stefan de Bod, Kent Main.
Eritrea who won the 2010 edition courtesy of Daniel Teklehaimanot have produced the best riders on the continent and are considered favourite to win this year’s edition.
Eritrea’s quest for 2017 Tour du Rwanda edition will be led by Tesfom Okubamariam who won the last stage of the 2016 edition of Tour du Rwanda. Okubamariam was supposed to feature for Italian Interpro cycling academy but they announced their withdrawal from this year’s edition hence opting to represent his country.
Others on the Eritrean squad are Simon Mussie, Natnael Mebrahetu, Amanuel Tsegai and Aron Debretsion.
The other favourite side to stage a tough challenge against Team Rwanda is Germany’s UCI Continental Team Bike Aid.
Bike Aid have been regular participants since making their debut in 2014 and they have won a combined four stages and the 2014 King Of the Mountains (KOM) jersey which all came courtesy of Eritrean Mekseb Debesay, who currently rides for Team Dimension Data of South Africa.
The Bike Aid’s roster is led by German Nikodemus Holler, winner of 2017 Tour of Cameroon, 2017 Tour of Poyang Lake (China) and finished third at this year’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, Gabon.
Others are; Dutch Adne van Engelen, who won the 2016 Romsee-Stavelot (Belgium) and finished at 2017, Tour of Cameroon, Kenyans Salim Kipkemboi (finished second in youth classification at 2017 Sibiu Cycling Tour in Romania), Suleiman Kangangi (finished third at Tour of Poyang Lake) and Geoffrey Langat.
Finally, Canada’s LowestRates.ca Cycling Team will make their second appearance following an outstanding debut last year. Their five-man team is composed of Cameron McPhaden also known as the master of the groupetto, Jules Cusson-Fradet, Stephen Keeping, Edward Greene and Brett Wachtendorf also known as the climbing specialist.
In the club’s statement published on their website last week, McPhaden said, “Our motivation for this year is to live up to the reputation we established during last year’s race, taking the win in two of the eight stages in Rwanda. It won’t be easy, but it can certainly be done, especially with the work that Brett and Ed have been putting in the mountains. The three of us domestics will be fetching bottles, keeping our leaders safe in the pack, and dealing with any riffraff that tries to disturb the day’s plan,” Cameron said.
Last year, LowestRates.ca Cycling Team impressed on their debut winning a total of two victories that included the prologue race and stage three (Karongi-Rusizi) all courtesy of Rugg Timothy who later joined German UCI Continental team Bike Aid.
They finished in the fourth place in the general team classification out of 12 teams behind Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Ethiopia and Team Rwanda.
Rwanda’s Valens Ndayisenga, currently with Austria’s Tirol Cycling Team, is the reigning champion, while Jean Bosco Nsengimana won the 2015 Tour du Rwanda edition.
The four-time record stage winner of Tour du Rwanda is the only rider to have won the annual event twice (2014 and 2016) since it became part of UCI Africa Tour in 2009.
Rwanda won the last three Tour du Rwanda editions. In 2014, Ndayisenga became the first Rwandan rider to win the Tour du Rwanda since its incorporation into the UCI Africa calendar in 2009.
The 2017 edition of the Tour du Rwanda starts on Sunday with a 3.3km prologue at Amahoro Stadium.
2017 Tour du Rwanda stages
Nov. 12: Prologue: 3.3km
Nov. 13: Stage 1 Kigali-Huye 120.3km+ 4 categorized climbs
Nov. 14: Stage 2 Nyanza- Rubavu 180km+ 6 categorized climbs
Nov. 15: Stage 3 Rubavu-Musanze 95km+ 1 massive categorized climb
Nov. 16: Stage 4 Musanze-Nyamata 121km+ 4 categorized climbs
Nov. 17: Stage 5 Nyamata-Rwamagana 93.1km+ 3 categorized climbs
Nov. 18: Stage 6 Kayonza-Kigali 86.3km+ 4 categorized climbs (including the infamous “Mur de Kigali”)
Nov. 19: Stage 7 Kigali-Kigali 120km+ 10 categorized climbs (one per lap of the circuit)