Local riders are determined to dominate Rwanda's most exciting annual sporting event (Tour du Rwanda) scheduled to kick off from November 12-19.
A total of 17 teams from different parts of the world are set to grace this year's 2.2 UCI Africa road race tour that will cover a total distance of 819 kilometres in seven stages. After becoming part of UCI Africa tour 2009, Valens Ndayisenga made history by becoming the first Rwandan rider to win the race in 2014.
And since more Rwandan riders have mastered the race. Jean Bosco Nsengimana won the 2015 edition and Ndayisenga repeated the 2014 feat in the 2016 edition, making him the first rider ever to claim it two times.
Now local riders are set to maintain this track record ahead of this year's edition. Rwanda's most promising rider Joseph Areruya riding for South Africa's Dimension Data for Qhubeka along with his compatriot Samuel Mugisha have been tipped to shine.
Speaking to Times Sport in a phone interview from Italy on Wednesday, the former Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagana rider revealed that he has already begun rigorous training in preparation for the tour.
"Tour du Rwanda has been growing strong year after year and winning it can't just come easy, it's really tough. For me I started training this week, and of course winning it is my dream and I will try to push for it this year," said Areruya
The 21-year-old Kayonza born rider made his Tour du Rwanda debut in 2015 where he amazingly finished second in the general classification and fourth in the 2016 edition where he claimed the fourth stage (Rusizi-Huye).
In June this year, Areruya shocked the international cycling fraternity by winning stage 5 of the 2017 Giro d'Italia U23 on his debut.
This historic win was a first on two fronts, first, it marked Rwanda's first win on the European racing circuit and it was also Dimension Data All-African Continental Team's first victory outside the continent.
His compatriot Mugisha, who debuted last year and won the King of Mountains title, is in the country following the loss of his mother last week and Areruya will join him on October 23 ahead of the tour.
Meanwhile six teams will make their Tour du Rwanda debut this year.
They include Dukla Banska Bystrica (Slovakia), Interpro Cycling Academy, Team Illuminate, Kenya Riders Safaricom, Mauritius and Valens Ndayisenga's Tirol Cycling Team.
Full list of teams:
Other national teams
UCI Continental teams
1. Dimension Data For Qhubeka (South-Africa)
2. Tirol Cycling Team (Austria)
3. Team Bike Aid (Germany)
4. Team Illuminate (USA)
5. Dukla Banska Bystrica (Slovakia)
6. Interpro Cycling Academy (Japan)
1. Club Benediction de Rubavu (Rwanda)
2. Club Les Amis Sportifs de Rwamagama (Rwanda)
3. Team Lowestrates.com (Canada)
4. Team Haute-Savoie/Auvergne (France)
5. Team Kenya Riders Safaricom (Kenya)