The national Cycling Team has arrived in Baher Dar where the riders will on Friday start vying for medals at the 14th African Continental Road Championships in Ethiopia.
Team Rwanda, a delegation of 14 cyclists and four staff, departed Kigali Tuesday night, at 1:45pm aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight, and were due to land in Addis Ababa Wednesday morning before connecting to Baher Dar, the capital city of the Amhara region in northern Ethiopia.
According to Nathan Byukusenge, head coach of the junior and women’s teams, his riders have been prepared well for the competition and they are ready to ‘make Rwanda proud’ in Ethiopia.
“We will be up against the best cyclists on the continent, but we are – nonetheless – optimistic and determined to challenge for medals. I have full confidence in my boys and girls,” Byukusenge told Times Sport in a recent interview.
Eight-time Tour du Rwanda rider Byukusenge, who also represented the country in mountain biking at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is in charge of the men’s junior and women’s teams, while American tactician Sterling Magnell leads the U23 and elite men’s team.
Prior to their departure, the teams had been training at the Africa Rising Cycling Centre (ARCC) in Musanze District and both coaches, Magnell and Byukusenge, said they were impressed by the ‘notable improvement and willpower’ amongst the riders in residential training.
Rwanda will start the quest for medals on Friday when the 2019 edition of Africa’s biggest cycling competition gets underway with Team Time Trial (TTT) events in all age categories; junior men and women as well as elite men and women.
The Individual Time Trial (ITT) contests are scheduled for Sunday before Monday’s road races in men and women’s junior categories as well as for the elite female riders.
The elite men’s road race – the competition’s main event – will bring the curtain down on the week-long race series on Tuesday.
During last year’s edition, which was held in Rwanda, the hosts claimed a total ten – including three gold – medals, and Rwanda was third in overall classification behind powerhouse Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Former Tour du Rwanda champions Valens Ndayisenga and Jean Bosco Nsengimana, and fast-rising prodigy Moise Mugisha lead the team in Ethiopia.
Full 14-rider Team Rwanda
Seniors:Jacqueline Tuyishimire, Beatha Ingebire, Genevieve Mukundente and Oliver Izerimana
Juniors:Jean Eric Habimana, Leones Uhirirwe Byiza, Bernabe Gahemba and Eric Umuhoza
Seniors:Valens Ndayisenga, Jean Bosco Nsengimana, Jean Claude Uwizeye, Moise Mugisha and Eric Manizabayo