Team Rwanda is in Gabon ready to begin their quest for 2018 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo cycling race which kicks off on Monday, January 15with the first stage of the six-day tour which will see cyclists riding 146km from Kango to Lambarene in Gabon.
The 13th edition of the annual race is scheduled to run from January 15-21 across Gabon and some parts of Cameroon. Rwanda has been part of the competition since 2009.
The six-man Team Rwanda will be led by Tour du Rwanda reigning champion Joseph Areruya and two-time winner Valens Ndayisenga and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana. They arrived in Gabon on Friday to acclimatize ahead of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo Tour.
Other riders on the team are Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo and the pair of young and upcoming riders Jean Ruberwa and Didier Munyaneza who will be making their maiden appearance.
Before departure Uwizeyimana said, “We are aiming to be the best team in Africa at this year’s edition of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo tour. We want to win the race and secure some stage victories. We have a good and strong team mixed with young and promising riders who are ready for the task.”
Rwanda’s quest for the win will meet stiff challenge from the likes of Adrien Petit (2016 winner) and defending champion Yohan Gene—the duo rides for Team Direct Energy, a UCI World Tour side that competes in Tour de France.
Ndayisenga, who missed the last two editions, will be in Gabon to improve on his 2015 performance where he finished 23rd in general classification and 6th in Individual Time Trial (ITT). He finished 62nd in 2014, after failure to finish the race a year earlier.
Uwizeyimana also holds the best performance by any Rwandan rider recorded at the 12th edition of the competition earlier this year, where he finished in the 6th place. Youngster Ukiniwabo finished 5th in the final stage last year.
Rwanda team is managed by Coach Sempoma Felix, Obed Ruvogera is the team doctor while Eric Maniriho is the team’s mechanic.
Besides Rwanda, the 2018 edition of La Tropicale Amissa Bongo has attracted 4 teams from the UCI Continental Pro, 2 teams of the UCI Continental and 8 African National Teams.
After the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, which is the first race on the UCI Africa Tour calendar, focus will shift to the UCI African Continental Road Championship slated for February 13-18 in Rwanda. It will be the second time for Rwanda to host it in eight years after 2010.
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