Africa-Press – Rwanda. Stages
Kigali Gold Resort & Villas-Rwamagana (115,6km)
Kigali-Gisagara (132, 9 km)
Rubavu (Home of Amstel)-Gicumbi (157km)
Canal Olympia-Canal Olympia (75, 3 km)
While football arguably remains the global community’s favorite at large, cycling is increasingly becoming big in Rwanda. It is, so far, the only sport that attracts the attention of people of all ages ahead of other sports disciplines on Rwandan soil.
The Rwanda Cycling Federation (Ferwacy) is organizing the 15th Tour du Rwanda edition which is increasingly becoming one of the biggest cycling showpieces on the continent given the atmosphere it created among cycling supporters. The event attracts the attention of internationally-renowned clubs including teams that are used to big cycling events on the international calendar.
The annual race is scheduled to take place in Rwanda from February 19-26. It will cover a total distance of 1,129 kilometers, unlike last year’s 937km.
Huye-Musanze and Rusizi-Rubavu are Tour du Rwanda’s longest stages with a distance of 199,5km and 195,5km, respectively. The Canal Olympia-Canal Olympia stage is the shortest, covering 75,3km.
Rwanda is showing an important contribution to unearthing and giving a platform to new cycling talents by giving them a chance to compete at big cycling events across the continent.
Widely considered as the biggest UCI 2.1 cycling race in Africa, a total of 20 cycling teams will participate in the Tour du Rwanda 2023 of which two, Benediction Kitei Pro2020 and Team Rwanda, will represent Rwanda.
The winner of Tour du Rwanda 2023 will dethrone reigning champion Natnael Tesfasion of Eritrea who has won the race twice, in 2020 and 2022.
Known for creating the hype and support from cycling fans on the streets, Tour du Rwanda is increasingly showing signs of soon overtaking football in terms of bringing joy and happiness and a smile on Rwandans’ faces.
And it never disappoints!
The biggest frustration on the Rwandan side is that no Rwandan rider has won Tour du Rwanda since the tournament was sanctioned to the 2.1 UCI cycling races in 2019, ending their serial dominance under the 2.2 racing category.
Riders and their technical staff will be all hungry to end that bad record to bring the grandest accolade back to where it belongs after the previous three victories had come in favor of foreign riders.
It will require riders to restore the confidence and spirit they had when they won the annual cycling tournament in past editions.
The ambiance of cycling fans on the streets is one of the biggest factors that shows the beauty of the showpiece over the past decade.
A big number of riders are discovered from the Northern and Eastern region of the country. The two areas are home to passion-driven riders where every youngster, inspired by their older brothers, dreams to become Rwanda’s future cycling super star.
A race of African giants
Rwandan riders have for about a decade been dominating the podium of Tour du Rwanda until it was upgraded to UCI 2.1 category in 2019.
Since then, Eritreans found themselves in their own league in the last two editions and have no plan to surrender the yellow jersey. They continue to push the likes of South Africa and Algeria to establish themselves as the kings of African cycling.
No surprise, Eritrea has been touted by many as the ‘Cycling Heaven’ or the ‘the Bicycle Horn of Africa’ given that Eritreans have, for years, welcomed cycling as part of their culture.
There are different reasons behind this, including the fact that Ferwacy has been efficient and consistent in its work, a far cry from the state of affairs at most local sports federations – which have been hugely disappointing.
All this would not have been possible without the support that Rwandan cycling enjoyed from both the Government and people of Rwanda, as well as the dedication of Ferwacy officials, local cycling clubs, coaches, riders, as well as partners and the whole of the cycling community and fans.
Tour du Rwanda is a cycling event created in 1988 and based in Rwanda. The event is a cycling stage race that organized by the Rwanda Cycling Federation. The event has been part of the UCI Africa Tour since 2009.
In that year, the experienced Adil Jelloul won the inaugural UCI Continental Tour event with a comfortable lead.