Team Rwanda riders made an indifferent start to the 2013 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo cycling race in Gabon with none finishing in the top 30 in the opening stage, Bitam - Ebolowa on Monday.
Captain Nathan Byukusenge, who is also the most experienced member on the team, was the highest placed in the 32nd position, while Valens Ndayisenga finished last in the 88th place.
Belgian Frédérique Robert, who rides for Team Lotto Belisol won the 149.2 km Stage One in a time of 03h49'47" 10", followed by Yohann Gene of France (03h49'47" 6"), while Italy's Andrea Francesco Palini was third after clocking 03h49'47" 4".
Byukusenge, the only surviving member from the team that participated in last year's event, did well to finish with the first group, which constituted mostly professional riders.
According to sources in Gabon, Ndayisenga Valens crashed with only 25kms left, which left him bruised and cost him valuable time.
"He is a new rider so we are still working with him on what to do when you crash. The riders have a tendency to just sit there. We tell them they have 5 seconds to get up and get on their bikes," Kimberly Coats, an official working with Team Rwanda told Times Sport on Tuesday.
She added, "I spoke with Jack Boyer (the team's American coach) last night and he was very pleased with the effort of the team. It was an extremely fast race and they are racing with mostly European pros. They did very well, especially Hassan, Jeremie and Bonaventure. This is their first race outside Rwanda."
Last year, Rwanda was represented by Joseph Biziyaremye, Nathan Byukusenge, Nicodem Habiyanbere, Janvier Hadi, Emmanuel Rudahunga and Abraham Ruhumuriza.
Team Rwanda finished 7th out of 15 teams and third overall position in Africa, behind Eritrea and Morocco. The 2013 edition has attracted 15 teams from twelve countries. La Tropicale Amissa Bongo