Veteran rider Nathan Byukusenge is confident that Team Rwanda will come top at the upcoming African Mountain Bike Championships slated for May 9-10 in Musanze.
The 35-year-old who was among the original riders who formed Team Rwanda Cycling in 2007 has considerable experience in the mountain bike category and is confident that a month’s training on the race course will give them an advantage over the weekend.
Having competed at the Cape Epic in South Africa the same year, Byukusenge mentioned that he alongside another veteran rider Abraham Ruhumuriza have been passing on experience to the rest of the team.
“We have been training for about four weeks and for sure we shall benefit from the home advantage. I think the riders have the speed to come out top on that course especially Hadi (Janvier) and Joseph (Biziyaremye),” explained Byukusenge.
Meanwhile, South African rider Philip Buys will be hoping to defend his continental Mountain Bike title having successively won the continental title for the past three years.
In an exclusive interview with Times Sport, Buys said, “Hopefully, I can win the continental championship again. About a week and a half ago, I had a crash at a National Cup race in South Africa so I injured my right shoulder so it is a bit unstable so when we get to the rocky part of the course, I have to be very careful because I can’t pull too much on the shoulder.”
Buys , who arrived in Rwanda on Monday has been training on the track in Musanze and is contented with the course which he described as not needing mud tires.
He said, “We went on a lap on the wet tires and it is still fine. Usually when we are riding Mountain Bike, we put special mud tires but on this track we do not need mad tires. We shall race normal dry tires. It is going to be a little bit more slippery when it rains but otherwise it is quite okay.”
Seventeen-year-old Alexandre Mayer from Mauritius who arrived with country-mate Yannick Lincoln last Saturday revealed that they are getting used to the high altitude in Rwanda which is up to 1,850m above sea level as compared to 828m in Mauritius.
Mayer said, “We are getting used to the altitude here in Musanze and we are happy with the improvement. We think the course is okay and we shall surely do well over the weekend.”
The Zimbabwe team arrived yesterday while teams from Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho and Uganda are yet to arrive. The top two countries will win a bid to represent Africa at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil from August 5-21.
Adrien Niyonshuti qualified for the London 2012 Olympics and finished 39th becoming the first Black African to complete this event.