Samuel Mugisha, aged 20 years and 250 days, wrote his name into history books yesterday becoming the youngest rider ever to win the annual Tour du Rwanda.
The Team Rwanda rider, who was racing in his third Tour du Rwanda – a UCI Africa Tour – since his heroic debut performance in 2016, was crowned the champion for the 10th edition that concluded with an eighth and final stage in the capital Kigali.
Mugisha, who plies his trade with the Italy-based South African UCI Continental Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, becomes the fourth Rwandan to win Tour du Rwanda in five consecutive years since Valens Ndayisenga in 2014.
The former Club Benediction’s rider won this year’s edition – the last time Tour du Rwanda has been staged as a 2.2 category following its upgrade to a 2.1 category – covering 953.2km in 24 hours, 26 minutes and 53 seconds.
The 2016 Tour du Rwanda King of the Mountains rider beat his closest rival and compatriot Jean-Claude Uwizeye by 21 seconds with the latter posting 24h27’14” while Ethiopian debutant Mulu Hailemicheal finished in third place clocking 25h27’57”, one minute and four seconds of the pace.
“I am overwhelmed with joy, I don’t know how I can describe this moment,” said Mugisha, who was riding for Team Rwanda in the week-long race as his club did not participate in this year’s edition.
“Thanks to everyone who has been behind us since day one, I had a good team in Team Rwanda, they worked for my win tirelessly,” added the youngster.
He also pointed to good races he undertook in Europe prior to this year’s Tour du Rwanda. “I had good races in Italy with Dimension Data and I think it helped me so much in Tour du Rwanda.”
Mugisha entered this year’s tour three weeks after scooping the King of the Mountains jersey at the 55th edition of Giro della Valle d’Aosta race in Italy.
“This is a motivation in my career, I want to forget this feat from today and start working harder for the future because I am yet to reach my dream,” he noted.
Algerian veteran rider Azzedine Lagab won the final 82.2km stage around Kigali beating a field of four riders in a sprint photo finish all posting 02h06’20”.
Besides coming on top of the General Classification, Mugisha also won in three other categories, scooping the best young rider, best African rider and best Rwandan rider awards.
Timothy Rugg of Germany’s Team Embrace the World was the Tour’s most aggressive rider, while Ethiopian Mulu Hailemicheal was named the King of the Mountains, with Bruno Araujo, from Angola’s Bai-Sicasal-Petro de Luanda, winning the best intermediate sprint award.
Uwizeye and Ndayisenga’s POC Cote Lumiere of France was named the Tour’s overall best team.
For Tour du Rwanda, Mugisha walked away with US$2,000 plus US$700 for his stage two win, US$300 for being the best young rider of the race, US$300 for emerging the best African in the competition, and US$300 for finishing as the best Rwandan.
Meanwhile, the next edition of Tour du Rwanda that will be staged under the 2.1 category from February 24 through March 3 next year.
TOUR DU RWANDA 2017 : Areruya wins Tour du Rwanda 2017 title
Rwandan Joseph Areruya has won Tour du Rwanda 2017, which concluded on Sunday at Amahoro National Stadium—the 21-year old, riding for South African UCI Continental Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka used a total of 20hrs, 21 minutes and 29 seconds.
Areruya also won the best Africa and best Rwanda rider, while best combative rider was Van Engren of Team Bike Aid while Eritrean Nathaniel Barnham was named the best climber.
Defending champion Valens Ndayisenga (Tirol Cycling Team) won the final stage, Kigali-Kigali (120km), after dominating the last lap.
Areruya Dimension Data for Qhubeka teammate Eyob Metkel finished second in General Classification (GC), 28 second behind the winner; Kenya Suleiman Kangangi of Team Bike Aid was third having used 20 hours, 23 minutes and 58 seconds.
Team Rwanda captain Jean Bosco Nsengimana was fourth with 20 hours, 23 minutes and 39 seconds in the eight-day, seven-stage race that covered 819 kilometres.
Areruya became the third Rwandan rider to the annual UCI-Africa, category 2.2 road race since becoming an international competition in 2009, after Valens Ndayisenga, who won it twice in 2014 and 2016 and Jean Bosco Nsengimana in 2015.
Defending champion Ndayisenga, who despite winning the final stage on Sunday in 2 hours, 58 minutes and 13 seconds, only managed sixth-place finish in General Classification.
Former Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana rider, Areruya benefited from the work and the great strategy of the team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, which is also the number 2 team of the World Tour.
Meanwhile, by winning the final stage, Ndayisenga equaled the record of the greatest number of stage victories on the Tour of Rwanda (5) held since Saturday by Metkel Eyob.
TOUR DU RWANDA 2016: Valens Ndayisenga wins Tour du Rwanda twice
After his historic feat in 2014 when he became the first Rwandan to win Tour du Rwanda since it become a 2.2 category UCI Africa Tour race in 2009, Valens Ndayisenga has again set a new record as the first rider to win the international road race twice.
The Rwamagana-born star, riding for South Africa’s Dimension Data For Qhubeka, scooped his second title after finishing on top of the general classification of the eight-day seven-stage race that concluded on Sunday at Amahoro National Stadium.
The 22-year-old, who took the yellow jersey after stage two, Kigali-Karongi setting a gap of one minute and 25 seconds, maintained his lead until the last day despite his teammate Eyob Metkel closing the gap to only 39 seconds
Following this triumph, Ndayisenga bagged a total of US$4,455 (about Rwf3.6 million). This included $1900 for the overall winner, $300 for best young rider, $300 for best Rwandan rider and $300 for best African rider.
He also walked away with $1360 for the two stages (second and sixth stages) he won. Each stage had $680 up for grabs.
For finishing the prologue in the sixth position he got $30, while in first stage he got $20 after finishing in the 16th place. From the third stage, he got $50 after finishing in the seventh place before getting another $20 in stage four after finishing in the 15th place.
In stage five he finished in the 18th place taking $15 while in the last stage seven, he finished in the third place taking to bag $160. In total he walked home with a total sum of $4,455.
In the final stage, Kigali-Kigali (108km), Ndayisenga finished in third place behind Eritrean Tesfom Okubamariam, who used 2 hours, 43 minutes 21seconds, while Metkel came in second position with 2h43’21.”
Overall, Ndayisenga used a time of 21hours 15 minutes and 21 seconds while Metkel used 21h16’00’’ and Okubamariam, who claimed third place, used 21h16’51’’.
Last year’s first runner-up Joseph Areruya, riding for Les Amis Sportif de Rwamagana, finished in the fourth place, having used 21h18’13’’.
Defending champion Jean-Bosco Nsengimana, riding for Germany-based Stradalli-Bike Aid finished in a disappointing 9th place using 21h20’24’’ a gap of five minutes and three seconds behind Ndayisenga.
After winning the Tour, Ndayisenga said, “First and foremost I thank God for being with me throughout this competition, it was possible to lose it at any stage but it’s an incredible feeling that I have managed to keep the yellow jersey to the last day. This is unbelievable.”
Last year, the record four-time Tour du Rwanda stage winners, could not defend his title after falling ill in stage five while he was in the second place in the general rankings behind Nsengimana, who went on to win the race.
“Winning Tour du Rwanda is not something that can be done by anyone but it was my only target, especially with the disappointment of last year—winning the race is the best way to give back to the wonderful support that Rwandans have shown to cycling,” Ndayisenga noted.
On top of winning the race, Ndayisenga also clinched the best young rider award, best African rider award and best Rwandan rider award.
Several people have congratulated Ndayisenga including President Paul Kagame who sent him a congratulatory message on Twitter. “Congratulations Valens Ndayisenga, winner of a thrilling Tour du Rwanda 2016. Thanks to all riders and Rwandans who came out to watch and cheer,” Kagame tweeted.
Meanwhile, debutant Samuel Mugisha, riding for Rubavu-based Benediction Club, scooped the best climber award while Dimension Data For Qhubeka won the best team award.
This year’s Tour du Rwanda had 74 riders in 15 teams but 18, including Rwandans Joseph Biziyaremye (Team Rwanda) and Mathieu Twizerane (Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana), failed to finish.
TOUR DU RWANDA 2015: Jean Bosco Nsengimana is the hero of Tour du Rwanda 2015
On the on 102 Kilometers mountainous road from Kigali to Musanze, on the 3rd Stage of Tour du Rwanda, Team Rwanda’s Cyclist Jean Bosco Nsengimana crosseed the finish-line first and won the Yellow Jersey for the 2nd time after winning the Tour’s Prologue.
Until Today, Jean Bosco tops the Tour du Rwanda Cyclists on the general list followed by two Rwandans in three first places. He comes ahead of the Title holder, Valens Ndayisenga who ranks second with one-minute time difference.
Jean Bosco Nsengimana of Team Rwanda Kalisimbi was crowned this year’s winner of “Tour du Rwanda”, one of Africa’s most gruelling cycling competitions. The 22-year rider clocked a total of 23h54’50’’ in the race’s seven stages.
Following last year’s win by Valens Ndayisenga, this year, Rwanda’s cycling teams of Kalisimbi, Akagera and Muhabura came together as Team Rwanda to ensure that the race title remains in the country. The team stood out throughout the week as Nsengimana kept the race leader’s yellow jersey from the first day to the end.
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, in front of a cheering crowd of Rwandans and their friends – soaked to the bone by a heavy downpour, Nsengimana took the stage flanked by Joseph Areruya of Team Akagera Camera Hakuzimana of Team Muhabura. The two came second and third respectively. Waving National Flags, the fans sang the National Anthem to remind those who were watching from far that this was indeed a National Triumph.
The top race winners were later joined by their fellow Rwandan riders to pay tribute to the President of the Republic, Paul Kagame, for his support which, they said, is a defining factor behind their sustained success. In September this year, the team received 18 road bikes, eight time trial bikes and other items as a gift from the President.
“This is a great moment for me but it is also the result of the work of the whole team. I worked hard to succeed in this Tour du Rwanda and this is a great reward,” said Nsengimana.
The race winner further expressed his gratitude to the President and Rwandans nationwide for rallying behind Team Rwanda. Wherever the riders went, hundreds of residents lined on the streets to cheer them on.
The Minister of Sports and Culture, Julienne Uwacu, praised Rwandan riders for their hard work, team spirit and concentration.
Nsengimana becomes the second Rwandan to win the race since it became a UCI Africa 2.2 category in 2009. He won the prologue and two stages: Kigali – Musanze and Rubavu – Kigali.
Since 2009, Eritrea has won 16 Tour du Rwanda stages, followed by Rwanda with 10 stage wins, Morocco with nine and South Africa with eight.
TOUR DU RWANDA 2014: Valens Ndayisenga is the Champion
Team Rwanda Karisimbi’s Valens Ndayisenga has been crowned Tour du Rwanda winner, the first Rwandan to win the event.
He won in a total time of 24h57’10’, beating Jean Bosco Nsengimana, Aron Debretsion and Joseph Biziyaremye.
“I am really happy, I am excited for what we have achieved. This win is for all Team Rwanda members. We did well, every rider played a key role to get this yellow jersey” Ndayisenga said.
The Tour du Rwanda, which is organised by Rwanda Cycling Federation, was first held in 1988 before it became part of the UCI Africa Tour.