Tour du Rwanda reigning champion Areruya Joseph leads a six-man Rwandan team riders who will participate at the 13th edition of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo race due in Gabon from January 15 to 21, 2018.
According to the entry list released by the organisers of the Tropicale Amissa Bongo over the weekend, Rwanda will be represented at the 2.1 category UCI Africa Tour road race by Ndayisenga Valens, Uwizeyimana Bonaventure, Areruya Joseph, Ukiniwabo Jean Paul Rene, Ruberwa Jean Damascene and Munyaneza Didier.
Ndayisenga Valens and Areruya Joseph, both with Tour du Rwanda title honours will be leading a strong squad with a mission of winning Tropicale Amissa Bongo, a race Rwanda has not won since their debutant participation in 2009.
Since then, Rwandan riders have posted mixed results which have in the end earned them better rankings to be among the best in Africa.
Areruya will be making his second appearance at the race having finished ranked overall 63rd in 2016. With a successful competitive year in 2017 were he won the Tour du Rwanda and went to be named Africa’s second best cyclist of the year, Areruya is expected to stage impressive performances.
Ndayisenga, a 2016 Tour du Rwanda, will be making his fourth appearance at the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo. In his maiden appearance in 2013, he abandoned the race in its sixth day while in 2014 managed an overall 62nd finish with an impressive 8th on stage 4 before improving to a 23rd overall ranking with a fourth place finish on the sixth day of the race.
Uwizeyimana Bonaventure holds Rwanda’s current best record at the race. In 2014, he won the fifth stage of the Stage 5 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo; managed a 6th Overall finish in 2015 while winning the best rider classification before placing another 6th overall finish in the 2017 edition of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo.
Ukiniwabo who finished overall 27th in last year’s edition, Munyaneza and Ruberwa are promising riders who will good competitive back-up to their senior counterparts as Rwanda seeks to win the 2018 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo.
Besides Rwanda, the 2018 edition of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo will consist of 4 teams from the UCI Continental Pro, 2 teams of the UCI Continental and 8 African National Teams.
The team of Jean-René Bernaudeau is the one that most often participated in the Tropicale. She comes to Gabon for the 11th time. The last two winners of the Tropicale, Adrien Petit (2016) and Yohan Gène (2017) are present to offer an 8th success to their team in Gabon.
Another French team Delko Marseille-Provence KTM will also be starting next year. German Bike Aid team accustomed to events in Africa completes the list of professional teams that will oppose the ten African national selections.
Germany’s Bike Aid team will be making their fourth appearance at Gabon’s race. Their considerable efforts to promote African cycling by employing continental riders like Eritrean Meron Teshome and Kenyan Suleiman Kangangi must be noted.
Portuguese team Tavira will be making their maiden appearance in Gabon. The Continentale UCI will be composed of Italian Rinaldo Nocentini who was popular by the yellow jersey of the Tour de France that he wore in 2009 during 8 days.
Another Italian side, Wilier-Tristina is another Pro Continental team, solid and accustomed to the roads of the Giro d’Italia and they will be in Gabon with a generation of talented young Italian riders who are keen to compete with Direct Energie for the final victory.
Sovac is another UCI Continental division team which strongly strengthened during the winter with the presence of famous riders such as the Italian Davide Rebellin, the Algerian Youcef Reguigui who would run again this year in training World Tour Dimension Data. The team has already participated once in the Tropicale in 2014.
Other national teams expected include; Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, hosts Gabon, Morocco and Tunisia.
Monday, January 15, 2018: 1/ Kango-Lambaréné (146km)
Tuesday, January 16, 2018: 2/ Ndendé-Fougamou (173km)
Wednesday, January 17, 2018: 3/Fougalou-Lambaréné (114km)
Thursday, January 18, 2018: 4/Ndjolé-Mitzic (182km)
Friday, January 19, 2018: 5/Oyem-Ambam (141km)
Saturday, January 20, 2018: 6/Bitam-Oyem (115km)
Sunday, January 21, 2018: 7/Bikélé-Libreville (140km)
Total distance:1011 km