Rwanda has named a strong team to represent the country at the African Continental Road Championships which is scheduled to begin on February 13-18 in Kigali City.
Rwanda’s best riders were named by Team Rwanda head coach Sterling Magnell mid this week as the team enhances preparations in Bugesera District.
Magnell told local media on Thursday that Team Rwanda’s ambition in the Africa Continental Road Championship is to win medals hence the reason why Rwanda has fielded one of the strongest teams ever to accomplish the set mission.
The elite men’s line-up includes eight of the top and experienced riders in Rwanda namely; Tour du Rwanda, La Tropicale Amissa Bongo and Tour de l’Espoir champion Joseph Areruya, Patrick Byukusenge, Samuel Mugisga, Didier Munyaneza, 2014 Rwanda road cycling champion and 2016 Tour du Rwanda champion Valens Ndayisenga, 2008 Tour du Rwanda champion Adrien Niyonshuti, Jean Bosco Nsengimana and Jean Claude Uwizeyimana.
Magnell acknowledged that the race will have strong riders, but was quick to add that team Rwanda will rise up to the occasion.
“I know we are capable of doing better. We are focusing on preparations, we want to improve and correct some mistakes we made in past years. We are going for gold medals,” he added.
The elite women’s squad is comprised of four women riders namely; Jean d’Arc Girubuntu, Beatha Ingabire, Magnifique Manizabayo and Jackline Tuyishime.
The quest for junior team honors will be led by Gahembe Barinaba, Jean eric Habimana, Jean Claude Mfashwanayo and Yves Nkurunziza.
The junior women team consists of Violette Irakozenza, Jeanette Manishimwe, Samantha Mushimiyimana, and Valentine Nzayisenga.
The coaching staff is comprised of head coach Sterling Magnell, assisted by Felix Sempoma, Abraham Ruhumuriza and Nathan Byukusenge.
Rwanda Cycling team head coach Sterling Magnell has vowed that Team Rwanda riders will do what it takes to win medals at the.
To realize their chances of retainng gold at home, Team Rwanda will need to be at their best if they are to overcome strong and experienced opponents such as Eritrea who have fielded their best known continental champions. Other countries to watch out include South Africa, Morocco, Algeria, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Their elite men’s squad is comprised of re-known continental champions in different categories namely Mekseb Debesay, Meron Teshome, Amanuel Gebrezgabiher, Metkel Eyob, Henok Muluberhan, Simon Mussie, Tesfom Okubamariam and Elyas Afewerki.
Eritrea has an excellent record of winning seven straight titles in the African Championship Team Time Trial and they have vowed to add on the Rwanda edition to the trophy cabinet.
The events for the continental championships in Kigali will include; time trials for both individuals and teams but the main attraction will be the road races for both men and women.
It will be the second time that Rwanda hosts the continental championships, but the first in eight years since 2010.
Rwanda already has experience in hosting high-level competitions such as Tour du Rwanda, which has earned great success over the years and is now one of the major cycling events in Africa.
The Junior Women’s Team Time Trial will compete for a distance of 18.6 km same as the Men’s Junior Team Time Trial.
The Elite Women’s Team Time Trial will cover 40km same as the Elite Men’s Team Time Trial—the race will be held from Kicukiro to Nyamata in Bugesera District.
Meanwhile, the Women Junior Road race will cover a distance of 60km and their male counterparts will do 72km. Elite Women will compete in 84km race while the Elite Men will race for 168km in Kigali City.
Last year’s African Continental Road Championships took place in Luxor, Egypt and was won by South African Willie Smit in the Men Elite category.
Elite men’s team: Joseph Areruya, Patrick Byukusenge, Samuel Mugisga, Didier Munyaneza, Valens Ndayisenga, Adrien Niyonshuti, Jean Bosco Nsengimana and Jean Claude Uwizeyimana.
Elite women’s squad: Jean d’Arc Girubuntu, Beatha Ingabire, Magnifique Manizabayo and Jackline Tuyishime.
Junior team: Gahembe Barinaba, Jean eric Habimana, Jean Claude Mfashwanayo and Yves Nkurunziza.
Junior women team: Violette Irakozenza, Jeanette Manishimwe, Samantha Mushimiyimana, and Valentine Nzayisenga.
Coaching staff: Sterling Magnell, assisted by Felix Sempoma, Abraham Ruhumuriza and Nathan Byukusenge.
Photos by Plaisir Muzogeye