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LukasCPH

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Tour du Rwanda
« on: November 11, 2015, 20:21 »
It's November - time for one of the biggest stage races in Africa, the Tour du Rwanda.


Race history
A UCI race since 2009, the palmarès of the race reads like a Who's Who of African cycling. The crowds at the roadside are immense, and the support for the Rwandan riders fanatical, but always fair.
In the first edition in 2009, Rwandan cycling hero Adrien Niyonshuti finished third, but since then the podium was dominated by foreigners. South African Dylan Girdlestone improved his podium placings from year to year before finally winning in 2013. The Rwandan dry spell finally ended last year when Valens Ndayisenga and Jean-Bosco Nsengimana took the first and second places overall amid huge cheers.

Until 2008, TOUR DU RWANDA was a regional cycling race that brought together Rwandans but also riders from neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, ...

Upon his election to the head of the FERWACY in 2008, aided by the National Technical Director Jock Boyer, Aimable BAYINGANA, President, has worked to organize TOUR DU RWANDA internationally.

With Olivier Grandjean, consultant, expert and general coordinator, and with the support of Jean-Claude HERAULT very experienced in organizing international events, success was not long in coming and less 5 years, the TOUR DU RWANDA has risen in the leading (top 3) of racing cycling organizations on the African continent.

With the considerable assistance of MINISPOC and private economic partners, TOUR du RWANDA found its cruising speed and allows, each year in mid-November, to offer a magnificent sporting spectacle free for a week, and throughout the country to the people of Rwanda !

Through national and international media coverage of quality, beautiful landscape of the country of thousand hills are seen all over the world.

Each year, riders from far away (USA, Belgium, Canada, France, ...) or closest (Kenya, South Africa, Eritrea, Algeria, Gabon, ..) are challenging the Rwandan riders on their land.

TOUR DU RWANDA allows African riders to highlight in the context of a passage in professional and well run in the top professional teams in the world’s elite. Thus, the first 3 of 2010 edition included a big team (Orica-Green Edge for Daniel Teklehaimanot, Team Europcar for NatnaelBerhane and Argos Shimano for Reinardt Van Rensburg).

The very international palmares (a Moroccan, an Eritrean, an American, two South Africans and a Rwandan were winners) confirms the sport quality of TOUR DU RWANDA.
2009 *ma Adil Jelloul *ma Abdelatif Saadoune *rw Adrien Niyonshuti
2010 *er Daniel Teklehaimanot *er Natnael Berhane *za Reinardt Janse van Rensburg
2011 *usa Kiel Reijnen *usa Joey Rosskopf *za Dylan Girdlestone
2012 *za Darren Lill *za Dylan Girdlestone *ke John Njoroge
2013 *za Dylan Girdlestone *za Louis Meintjes *er Metkel Eyob
2014 *rw Valens Ndayisenga *rw Jean-Bosco Nsengimana *er Aron Debretsion


The parcours
The race covers a big part of the small East African country known as the "Land of the Thousand Hills" - and that already gives you an indication of the nature of the race: Lots of hills, never really flat. There are some testing climbs too, especially on the stages to and from Musanze in the north-west of the country, close to the mountain gorilla's homelands in the Volcanoes National Park, and Rubavu on the shores of Lake Kivu and just across the border from Goma, the civil war-stricken centre of the Congolese Kivu provinces. These four stages each have 3-4 cat. 1 climbs and will be crucial for the overall classification.

After a short prologue in the capital Kigali on Sunday the peloton will travel around Rwanda, the stages having lengths of between 95 and 165 km. The last stage is a 12-km circuit in Kigali, to be ridden 10 times before the final classification winners are honoured.






The teams
8 African countries and 5 European and American teams have sent squads to the race. The Gabonese national team and Australian squad Scody-Down Under pulled out within two weeks of the race.

The Rwandans will field three national selections, each named after a natural feature of the country (respectively, the Karisimbi & Muhabura volcanoes and the Kagera river, the southernmost source of the Nile). A riders' strike last weekend threatened the race: 13 of the 15 selected riders, including last year's winner Valens Ndayisenga, announced that they wouldn't start the race if their concerns for race safety (after the recent death of a cyclist in a local race) and financial demands weren't met, and left the team training camp. After an initial announcement that new riders would be scouted to participate in the race, riders and the federation sat down and finally overcame the differences, reaching a compromise that ensured the participation of all riders after some of their demands were fulfilled.

Competition will be provided by the best African national teams, Continental team Bike Aid (with two Eritreans on the roster) and four elite teams, one of them the Novo Nordisk development team.

Team list:
*rw Rwanda Karisimbi
*rw Rwanda Akagera
*rw Rwanda Muhabura
*za South Africa
*ke Kenya
*et Ethiopia
*er Eritrea
*eg Egypt
*ma Morocco
*dz Algeria
#novonordisk Team Novo Nordisk Development
*fr Team Haute-Savoie Rhône-Alpes
#bikeaid Bike Aid
*nl Global Cycling Team
*ch Team Loup Sport

Start list


The jerseys

The yellow-red-black SKOL jersey is awarded to the stage winner (and he'll wear it the next day too, marking him as dangerous to his rivals). The GC leader wears the #yellow yellow jersey sponsored by MINISPOC[1], while the best climber is adorned with the CogeBanque #kom white-orange-black jersey.
The #white white jersey sponsored by Soras is for the best young rider, the #blue blue Turkish Airlines jersey for the Best African in GC. Finally, the Best Rwandan wears the white-blue jersey sponsored by RDB[2].


The riders
*rw Valens Ndayisenga is the only previous winner of the race on the startlist, and has to be top-motivated for his home race. It remains to be seen, however, how he and the rest of the team recover (not so much physically, but mentally) from the conflict with the federation just a week before the race.
All-African champion Janvier Hadi, last year's runner-up Jean-Bosco Nsengimana, national champion Joseph Biziyaremye are other cards for the home teams to play; Gasore Hategeka and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana were in the top-5 of the GP Chantal Biya in October. The other riders are both veterans of the Rwanda Cycling Project like Abraham Ruhumuriza and Nathan Byukusenge and up-and-coming youngsters like Patrick Byukusenge, Joseph Areruya or Emile Bintunimana.

*za South Africa sends a national selection from the local circuit that nevertheless has heaps of international experience in the form of Willie Smit (ex #fantini), James Tennent (ex #mtn2013), HB Kruger (ex #bonitas & #pomme), and Stefan Ihlenfeldt (ex #bonitas).
I don't expect *ke Kenya and *eg Egypt to play big roles in the race, while*et Ethiopia will likely ride in support of last year's 6th place Temesgen Buru.
*ma Morocco brings a strong squad with a.o. Reda Aadel and #wcca trainee Anass Ait el Abdia, and the *dz Algerian team lead by Azzedine Lagab is dangerous too.
The strongest team in the race has to be the *er Eritrean national team: Meron Teshome, Aron Debretsion, Amanuel Gebreigzabhier, Metkel Eyob and Tesfom Okubamariam could all win stages or even the whole race.

#novonordisk Team Novo Nordisk Development is the non-UCI-level equivalent of the pro team: Only diabetic riders, and about as successful as their pro counterpart as well (which means, not successful at all). Before the team (re)introduced its diabetics-only policy, they won the race in a 1-2 with Kiel Reijnen and Joey Rosskopf (now both pros), but this year's squad will be happy with any result.
The *fr Haute-Savoie Rhône-Alpes team's best rider is former #cofidis pro Jérémie Bescond, with Julien Liponne also having a string of results from France, China and Rwanda (7th overall in 2012) to his name.
#bikeaid Bike Aid bring two more Eritreans, Meron Amanuel and Mekseb Debesay, and German journeymen Timo Schäfer, Joschka Beck and Daniel Bichlmann.
*nl The Global Cycling Team is a team racing all over the world, led by 41-year old Peter Woestenberg and Patrick Kos.
Finally there's *ch Loup Sport who are currently doing a long tour around Africa: #differdange Manuel Stocker, Michael Kyburtz & co. have already raced the GP Chantal Biya and the Tour du Faso.


Fus' favourites
African races are notoriously hard to predict, but I'll try anyway and pick these six riders as most likely to be protagonists in the race:
:* :* :* Mekseb Debesay
:* :* Valens Ndayisenga, Amanuel Gebregzabhier
:* Janvier Hadi, Reda Aadel, Azzedine Lagab

Then you can all point and laugh after Joseph Biziyaremye led home a race-winning breakaway to Rubavu accompanied by Stefan Ihlenfeldt, Temesgen Buru and Julien Liponne ... ;)


The coverage
ProCyclingStats' Stephan van der Zwan is in Rwanda and will provide updates on the race's Twitter account. There may be video highlights as well, but no livestream as far as I know.

:web Race website
:twitter Twitter
:facebook Facebook
 1. the Ministry of Sports and Culture
 2. the Rwandan Development Board
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  • « Last Edit: November 21, 2015, 15:28 by LukasCPH »
    Cyclingnews Women's WorldTour Correspondent
    2017 0711|CYCLING PR Manager; 2016 Stölting Content Editor
    Views presented are my own. RIP Keith & Sean

    LukasCPH

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    Re: Tour du Rwanda
    « Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 15:55 »
    Today's 3.5 km prologue ended in a Rwandan podium sweep:


    They will have been familiar with the course, probably having trained on it many a time, and Nsengimana takes this year's first #yellow.
    However, time differences are small, with the red lantern only 1'03" behind.

    Tomorrow's stage from Nyagatare to Rwamagana is flattish compared to the later stages, but nevertheless offers a number of hills and a finishing circuit, to be ridden thrice, for riders to make a difference on.
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  • just some guy

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    Of course, if this turns out someday to be the industry standard integrated handlebar-computer-braking solution then I'll eat my kevlar-reinforced aerodynamic hat.

    Larri Nov 12, 2014

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    just some guy

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    Re: Tour du Rwanda
    « Reply #4 on: November 17, 2015, 10:58 »


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    Re: Tour du Rwanda
    « Reply #5 on: November 18, 2015, 15:21 »
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: Tour du Rwanda
    « Reply #6 on: November 19, 2015, 13:28 »
    Stage 4 featured a number of climbs, and breakaways formed and were caught again all day. *ke Sanwel Ekiru was solo at the final mountain sprint with 1'25" to a chasing group of five, but was caught and distanced on the remaining 50 km.
    In the end #bikeaid Mekseb Debesay won the sprint of a smallish group for his second stage win of the race.


    *rw Nsengimana still in #yellow, but the next two days will be very hard.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: Tour du Rwanda
    « Reply #7 on: November 19, 2015, 13:30 »
    Also, Paul Sherwen visited the race some days ago. Talked about African Ugandan cycling to CN:
    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/paul-sherwen-african-cycling-needs-more-support/

    Doesn't say much of importance, but mentions the possibility of the Tour of Rwanda visiting Uganda.
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  • LukasCPH

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    Re: Tour du Rwanda
    « Reply #8 on: November 20, 2015, 11:42 »
    Another moutainous stage today: Three cat. 1, two cat. 2 and one cat.3, with a long 29.3 km downhill to the finish in Rubavu. Last year's overall winner *rw Valens Ndayisenga was DNS today after yesterday's crash.

    It was a slog through the rain, with some riders crashing (*er Aron Debretsion had to abandon), but thankfully the descent to Rubavu was dry.
    The stage win came down to a sprint again - and in the final kilometre, *rw Joseph Areruya, *rw Patrick Byukusenge and #bikeaid Mekseb Debesay went down.
    *er Meron Teshome was first across the line, followed by #yellow Jean-Bosco Nsengimana and *za Willie Smit.


    Tomorrow, they'll do that 29.3 km stretch - in the opposite direction! And it doesn't stop there, as two more cat. 1 climbs lie between the riders and Kigali, where there'll be an uphill finish (also classified as cat. 1).
    #yellow Nsengimana has a one-minute lead, but certainly hasn't won the race yet.
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    Re: Tour du Rwanda
    « Reply #9 on: November 21, 2015, 13:16 »


    seems like a fun stage from what I read
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