Team Rwanda Cycling has turned their focus to the 10th edition of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo that begins this afternoon with a 100km route from Bongoville to Moanda in Gabon.
Flown on a chartered plane from South Africa where Valens Ndayisenga won silver in the men’s U-23 individual time trial last week, Team Rwanda is now looking to win a stage at one of the most gruelling events on the UCI Africa Tour, a 2.1 race.
Head coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer said, “The mood in camp is very good. We want to win a stage and place well in the General Classification and learn from the professionals.”
“This continental championship has been the most valuable one we have ever participated in. The guys know where they made the mistakes and have regrouped to race hard in Gabon,” noted the American trainer.
Ndayisenga, Janvier Hadi, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Bosco Nsengimana and Patrick Byukusenge are the five Rwandan riders who will be battling it out against seven national teams and five professional teams from Europe.
The national teams include; Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, hosts Gabon, Morocco, South Africa as well as professional teams including Bretagne-Séché Environment (France), Bike Aid (Germany), Europcar (France), Roth-Skoda (Switzerland), Skydive Dubai (UAE) and Wanty-Groupe Gobert (Belgium).
Last year, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana won stage 4 at the same event, becoming the first black African to win a stage since the inception of the race in 2006.
Meanwhile, Boyer decried the effect of the wind at the just-concluded Africa continental cycling championships in Pietermaritzburg where Ndayisenga finished in 21st in the road race with Uwizeyimana coming 27th out of 118 riders.
Byukusenge came in 29th, Emile Bintunimana 38th, Adrien Niyonshuti 39th, Hadi 40th, Joseph Biziyaremye (41st) and Nsengimana (55th).
Boyer said, “It is frustrating as the riders certainly have the power. Our biggest challenge has always been, how to conserve our energy in the wind. On Saturday, our riders spent too much time in the wind and didn’t have enough energy.”
“Our races are rarely with winds, we don’t have that kind of winds in Rwanda, so it’s a very difficult challenge to overcome. Valens proved the power is there with his performance in the ITT,” explained an optimistic Boyer.
Africa Continental Championships
1. Louis meintjes (South Africa) – 1:59:27
2. Jay Thomson (South Africa) – 04:01:53
3. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (South Africa) – 04:01:53
21. Valens Ndayisenga (Rwanda) – 04:05:19
27. Bonaventure Uwizeyimana (Rwanda) – 04:11:33
By Usher Komugisha, The New Times
Courtesy of in2eastafrica.net