19-year old Haleluya Joseph wins Kivu Race
Rwamagana-based Les Amis Sportifs cycling club rider Haleluya Joseph won the first stage of Rwanda Cycling Cup which kicked off on Saturday April, 04, 2015.
The stage dubbed “Kivu Race” was the first of the 10-stage tour which will take place between April and October 2015 to help young and upcoming cyclists to display their talent and gain experience.
The cycling tourney is organized by Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) with the support of Cogebanque and Skol.
34 riders from six different teams in Rwanda took part in the competitive stage. To lead other teams was Benediction from Rubavu, which is the number one breeding club for Team Rwanda. Benediction riders were led by Nathan Byukusenge.
The teams 10 riders entered the tour with high hopes of upstaging others but they had not anticipated a strong challenge from teams like Les Amis Sportifs which pushed them to the last minute.
Benediction boasts of known names such as Gasore Hategeka, who previously won the Eastern Ciruit which stretches over 155K and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, who this year emerged the best under-23 rider in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo.
Others include Camera Hakuzimana who also emerged based rider under-23 in Tour du Cameroun which took place in March 2015.
On the other hand there was Les Amis Sportifs from Rwamagana which was led by Valens Ndayisenga the winner of Tour du Rwanda 2014.
Ndayisenga led the team which included youngsters including Uwizeyimana Jean Claude who made his debut in Tour du Rwanda last year as well upcoming stars like Haleluya Joseph, Ndayishimiye Ephrem and Tuyishime Omar.
Other riders who took part in the challenge to tackle the steep hills and corners of Ngororero were riders from Nyamirambo-based cycling club Cine Elmay which was led by Karegeya Jeremie, CCA Cycling club from led by veteran Ruhumuriza Abraham and Kiramuruzi of Rudahunga Emmanuel as well as Fly among other teams.
The tour started off in Muhanga district where hundreds of people had gathered to cheer on the participating teams.
The weather did not disappoint as it was characterized by a mixture of warm conditions and cool weather in most parts of the race up to Rubavu. The conditions were perfect for racing as the riders scaled the hills of Western Province and negotiated the sharp bends that are common on this route.
From the onset, the leading peloton consisting of three riders namely Nathan Byukusenge, Haleluya Joseph and Hakuzimana Camera created a gap of five minutes.
The trailing peloton was led by Valens Ndayisenga who was supporting his team to face off with the riders from Benediction which was led by Bonaventure and Hategeka Gasore. Benediction had put up a strong challenge from the beginning.
However, fatigue was visible among the Team Rwanda riders who had recently returned from Algeria where they had gone to take part in the Grand Tour of Algeria. As a result, some of the riders had to drop out because of exhaustion.
After 50 kilometres, Hadi Janvier could not push his body anymore and he called it quits. Shortly after, Nsengimana Jean Bosco also dropped out for the same reasons.
The leading peloton continued to set the pace, maintaining the 5 minute gap between them and the chasing peloton as the tour approached Rubavu. Huge crowds of people station in strategic positions to catch the race were seen in Kabaya, Rambura, and Sashwara, where Hadi hails from.
But with 3Km remaining to the finish line, the battle to cross the line first intensified with Haleluya launching an offensive against Nathan and Camera, the two teammates with a strategy to conquer the race.
As Nathan slowed down to allow Camera the chance to win the race, Haleluya attacked and passed the two riders to finish ahead of them in front of thousands of cycling-loving Rubavu residents who had turned up to watch the race.
After 138Km of intense cycling, Haleluya proved to be the best, finishing with 3 hours, 47 minutes and 49 seconds on the clock.
The 19 year old, who looks up to Adrien Niyonshuti, his paternal uncle, said that he won the cycling tour out of self-motivation, having convinced himself that he can push the leading pack from the start to the end.
“I saw riders from Benediction breaking away I said I will pursue them and ensure that I remain close to them. Towards the end, I realized that Nathan was slowing down to allow Camera to finish ahead of him. I said why can’t I beat them to the finish line? I held on and crossed the line first,” Haleluya said.
Nathan Byukusenge came in second while Camera finished third. Bonaventure finished fourth while Valens Ndayisenga finished in the fifth position.
It was joy for Les Amis Sportifs Cycling club because apart from winning the race, their rider had emerged the best under -18 rider on the stage from Musanze to Rubavu.
Les Amis Sportifs Coach, Rugambwa John said that they entered the competition well aware of the challenge that would be posed by Benediction which has the crème de la crème of cyclists in Rwanda. He said that he had given his players directives to mount a challenge against Benediction riders.
After Kivu Race, the riders will be returning to competitive racing on May 02, 2015 for the ‘Race to Remember’ which will begin in Kigali and head to Rwamagana.
Kivu Race: How they finished
1. Haleluya Joseph 3:47:49
2. Byukusenge Nathan “
3. Hakuzimana 3:47:59
4. Uwizeyimana Bonaventure 3:52:13
5. Ndayisenga Valens “
6. Gasore Hategeka “
7. Ruhumuriza Abrahama “
8. Rukundo Hassan 3:53:33
9. Mupenzi Aimee “
10. Tuyishime Omar “