Team Rwanda riders will be looking to finish in the top 15 at the men’s road race event today. The race is part of the ongoing Africa Continental Cycling Championships in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Team Rwanda riders listen to head coach Jonathan Boyer at the continental event in South Africa

The experience of professional rider Adrien Niyonshuti and on-form Valens Ndayisenga will provide a spark in Team Rwanda’s efforts to leave a mark at the continental level.

Following recent achievements on the UCI Africa Tour, Team Rwanda has caught the attention of everyone in the cycling fraternity and opponents from cycling powerhouses like Eritrea, Morocco and South Africa are cautious not to underestimate the competence of the Rwandan riders.

Team Rwanda head coach Jonathan ‘Jock’ Boyer said, “This is the toughest continental championships we have ever competed in. We are racing against the best riders in Africa, it is a full house. We are talking about Daniel Teklehaimanot, Natnael Berhane, Merhawi Kudus from Eritrea, it is incredibly competitive.”

Teklehaimanot is a four-time winner in the men’s Individual Time Trial at this event, alongside Berhane, and Merhawi.

“The boys are fit. They look good and we hope that we can get as many of them in the top 15 as possible. The course is hilly so it works for us because we are used to the hills,” noted an optimistic Boyer.

Niyonshuti, who rides professionally for South Africa-based team MTN Qhubeka, will bring massive experience into today’s event. Ndayisenga’s aptitude alongside Bosco Nsengimana’s ability to ride strongly on hills will come in handy.

For a team that spends up to 30 hours practicing over the hills of Rwanda, this is a platform that will present a foundation for success as determination and passion have already been displayed.

Janvier Hadi, known for his explosiveness, will lead the way in the breakaways, Joseph Biziyaremye’s persistence and the youthful energy and assertiveness of youngsters Patrick Byukusenge and Emile Bintunimana make Team Rwanda a very competitive side.

It is the urge to make a name on the continent that has motivated the eight riders to yearn for success at this level, especially in an Olympic qualifying year, where every result counts.

The top two teams in today’s event will receive Olympic selection and the top 15 riders will earn points on the UCI Africa Tour. The top four nations on the tour will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, Jean d’Arc Girubuntu finished in fifth position in the women’s road race event yesterday after posting 39:07 minutes.

Usher Komugisha, The New Times

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