Rwanda’s most decorated cyclist Valens Ndayisenga will be the man to beat when the 2017 Tour du Rwanda gets underway next weekend.
But the two-time winner and reigning champion is not fazed by the prospect of having to deal with the pressures that will, inevitably, come with his desire to make history to become the first rider to win the annual international race three times, and twice in a row.
The ninth edition of the UCI Africa Tour race which will start on November 12 and run until 19 has attracted 85 riders from 17 teams from across the world.
The 23-year-old Ndayisenga, currently riding for Austria’s Tirol Cycling team that will also make their debut appearance, has revealed his ambition to become the first rider to win the 2.2 UCI Africa tour three times.
Ndayisenga has been in the country since June where he has been training along with his Team Rwanda compatriots at the Africa Rising Cycling Center in Musanze district.
Hosts Rwanda will be represented by three teams namely; Team Rwanda, Club Benediction de Rubavu and Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana.
“Preparations are going on pretty well, everyone is ready for the competition and personally of course the target is obvious, I want to win it (Tour du Rwanda) again this year,” Ndayisenga told Times Sport on Saturday.
He vowed: “This year’s edition will definitely be tough, very strong teams are coming, there has been a great improvement among us (local riders) but I know what it means to win Tour du Rwanda, and I’m prepared to fight until the last stage.”
The former Dimension Data rider will face stiff competition from compatriots including Samuel Mugisha, who won last year’s King Of Mountains jersey, Joseph Areruya, who finished fourth and took stage four (Rusizi-Huye) before making history later this year, winning a stage at Giro Italia U23.
The duo will be featuring for South Africa’s Team Dimension Data, which was the best team last year.