Europcar picks interest in top Rwandan cyclists
Team Rwanda cycling coach Felix Sempoma has disclosed that top European teams have picked interest in Rwandan cyclists.
Professional cycling side ‘Team Europcar’ is interested in signing Rwandan riders Bonaventure Uwizeyimana and Janvier Hadi following their recent achievements in the UCI Africa cycling Tour.
Uwizeyimana, who finished as the best U-23 rider at the just concluded La Tropicale Amissa Bongo tour in Gabon, has attracted praise from Europcar’s team officials who hailed his brilliant performance, strength and endurance.
The 22-year-old Rwandan rider was sixth on the general classification and part of Team Rwanda which was named as the best African team ahead of cycling giants Morocco, Algeria, South Africa and Eritrea.
Hadi won the most aggressive rider jersey of stage 2 from Okondja to Franceville, a gruelling distance of 170km, which he led for almost 168km.
Team Rwanda Cycling coach Felix Sempoma who was with the riders in Gabon said, “The winner of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, Yauheni Hutarovich is a Tunisian who rides professionally for Skydive Dubai (United Arab Emirates) which is a very strong team.”
“So if we can get a rider to join a professional team and do training with them, it would be very good for our national team because this helps them to learn so much which helps us in the long run,” explained Sempoma.
Uwizeyimana rode with Vendee-U, the feeder team of Europcar last year while Hadi was invited to compete at last year’s Tour of Alberta in Canada as a guest rider for Team Garneau Quebecor where he won the Most Aggressive Rider jersey of stage 4.
Cycling fraternity hails Team Rwanda
The cycling fraternity in Africa and abroad has heaped praise on Team Rwanda Cycling for their recent achievements since the start of the 2015 UCI Africa Tour.
Ndayisenga’s prologue win in Egypt saw him finish ahead of Spanish professional rider Francisco Mancebo of Skydive Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Mancebo, a 38-year-old rider from Madrid who finished fourth at the 2004 Tour de France and sixth in the 2005 Tour de France, praised Ndayisenga’s brilliance.
For a country that only focussed on building a semi-professional side eight years ago with meagre resources, to beat countries like Morocco and Algeria which have had cycling as a top sporting discipline for more than a century, it is worth celebrating Team Rwanda’s success.
Race organisers of this event did not hide their impression of Team Rwanda’s exploits and have branded them ‘outstanding riders’ with the power and skill to emerge successful in other continental competitions and beyond.
Namibian cyclist Dan Craven who rides for Team Europcar revealed that he is impressed with Rwanda’s performances and that he has seen a ‘leap of progression.’
As the only non-professional side, the Rwandan riders beat four professional teams including Mekseb Debesay’s Bike Aid from Germany. Debesay is the reigning African cyclist of the year and won two stages at last year’s Tour du Rwanda.
Team Rwanda also finished ahead of France’s Bretagne Séché-Environment, Roth-Skoda (Switzerland) and Wanty-Groupe Gobert (Belgium).