Tour du Rwanda reigning champion Joseph Areruya and two-time winner Valens Ndayisenga will lead a star-studded Team Rwanda at the 2018 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo cycling race.
The 13th edition of the annual race is scheduled to run from January 15-21 across Gabon and some parts of Cameroon. Rwanda has been part of the competition since 2009.
Also part of the 6-man Team Rwanda at the 2.1 UCI category race is Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, the only Rwandan cyclist to ever win a stage in La Tropicale Amissa Bongo Tour.
The Benediction Cycling Club rider claimed stage 4 of the 2014 edition, where he finished 22nd in general classification.
Team Rwanda will be a mix of the young and experience; with two highly experienced riders making their second appearance and two debutants.
Youngsters Jean Ruberwa and Didier Munyaneza will be making their first appearance, Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo and Areruya will return to Gabon for a second time after the 2017 debut while Ndayisenga and Uwizeyimana will, each be racing in Gabon for the fourth time.
Twenty-two-year old Areruya, who was voted Africa's second best cyclist of the year 2017, last week, is among riders everyone will be keeping their eyes on during the seven-stage race.
However, the Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider, will face stiff challenge from the likes of Adrien Petit (2016 winner) and defending champion Yohan Gene-the duo rides for Team Direct Energy, a UCI World Tour side that competes in Tour de France.
Ndayisenga, who missed the last two editions, will be in Gabon to improve on his 2015 performance where he finished 23rd in general classification and 6th in Individual Time Trial (ITT). He finished 62nd in 2014, after failure to finish the race a year earlier.
Uwizeyimana also holds the best performance by any Rwandan rider recorded at the 12th edition of the competition earlier this year, where he finished in the 6th place. Youngster Ukiniwabo finished 5th in the final stage last year.
After the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo, which is the first race on the UCI Africa Tour calendar, focus will shift to the UCI African Continental Road Championship slated for February 13-18 in Rwanda. It will be the second time for Rwanda to host it in eight years after 2010.
Jan. 15: Kango - Lambaréné, 146km (Stage 1)
Jan. 16: Ndendé - Fougamou, 173km (Stage 2)
Jan. 17: Fougamou - Lambaréné, 114km (Stage 3)
Jan. 18: Ndjolé - Mitzic, 182km (Stage 4)
Jan. 19: Oyem - Ambam (Cameroon), 141km (Stage 5)
Jan. 20: Bitam - Oyem, 115km (Stage 6)
Jan. 21: Bikélé - Libreville, 140km (Stage 7)