It was a family affair as the reigning Tour du Rwanda champion, Valens Ndayisenga and his sister Xaverine Nirere put up strong performances to win the Race for Culture in Nyanza District on Saturday afternoon.
The 23-year-old Tirol Cycling Team rider raced the 167.8 kilometers in 4 hours, 35 minutes and 59 seconds to win the Elite Men's category while his young sibling Nirere claimed the 86.5km women's title in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 36 seconds.
The Elite Men's race started from Gatuna in Gicumbi District, while their female counterparts and U18 boys started from Giticyinyoni.
In a post-race interview with Times Sport, Ndayisenga said, "This is a very special moment for me and my sister. Winning our first race in Rwanda Cycling Cup on the same day just feels crazy. She is super talented, works really hard and I believe she is going make it to the top."
Nirere, 15, won comfortably after leading the final 25 kilometers unrivaled. She finished 4 minutes and 13 seconds ahead of the second-placed Beathe Ingabire. Magnifique Manizabayo (3:10:38) finished third.
Ndayisenga had to overcome stiff challenge from Patrick Byukusenge of Benediction Cycling Club, Mathieu Twizerane of Cycling Club for All, Jean Ruberwa (4th) of Nyabihu Cycling Club and Hassan Rukundo (5th) of Kigali Cycling team in a strong sprint finish.
The five riders finished with the same time and anyone of them could have taken the crown but the day belonged to the more experienced Ndayisenga, who cut down a 5-minute gap to catch up with the leading peloton in the last 20 kilometers.
Rwanda's top female cyclist Jeanne d'Arc Girubuntu, who has been struggling with recurrent injuries since beginning of this year, pulled out of the race before the half-way mark. The 22-year-old abandoned the competition after racing around 40 of the 86.5km.
Meanwhile, Yves Nkurunziza won the junior men's race in 2 hours, 33 minutes and 36 seconds ahead of Eric Manizabayo and Eric Muhoza, who finished second and third respectively. Jean Ruberwa topped the Men's U23 category.
Elite Men: Top three
1. Valens Ndayisenga (Tirol Cycling Team) - 4:35:59
2. Patrick Byukusenge (Benediction) - 4:35:59
3. Mathieu Twizerane (Cycling Club for All) - 4:35:59
Junior Men: Top three
1. Yves Nkurunziza (Benediction) - 2:33:36
2. Eric Manizabayo (Benediction) - 2:33-36
3. Eric Muhoza (Les Amis Sportifs) - 2:37:05
Women: Top three
1. Xaverine Nirere (Les Amis Sportifs) - 3:06:50
2. Beathe Ingabire (Les Amis Sportifs) - 3:10:37
3. Magnifique Manizabayo (Les Amis Sportifs) - 3:10:38