THE NATIONAL cycling team, Team Rwanda, is in Cameroonian southwest city of Douala where it is scheduled to compete at the 15th Tour du Cameroun.
The annual Africa Tour 2.2 C UCI category race kicksoff on Saturday and will run through June 3 across different parts of the West African country.
Team Rwanda roster of six cyclists, coached by the national team's assistant coach Felix Sempoma, left the country on Wednesday following days of rigorous training at the Africa Rising Cycling Center (ARCC) in Musanze District, home to the team.
The star-studded roster is led by the 2015 Tour du Rwanda winner Jean Bosco Nsengimana, who in 2016 won a stage in this particular tour; the 2015 All African Games gold medalist Janvier Hadi; the 2017 Rwanda Cycling Cup champion Patrick Byukusenge; and former Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider Bonaventure Uwizeyimana.
Fast-rising youngsters Didier Munyaneza and Jean Paul Rene Ukiniwabo complete the squad.
"We have a strong and determined pack of cyclists and each one is in good shape and has the capacity to win a stage. We are going to battle for every stage because our target is to win the whole race," Sempoma told Times Sport yesterday shortly before jetting off.
The team departed on Wednesday morning, at 8:20am, aboard RwandAir flight. Theoneste Karasira accompanied the team as a mechanic while Patrick Kayinamura is the physiotherapist.
Since 2010, Team Rwanda riders have won a total of seven stages at the Tour du Cameroun, including three stages at the 2010 edition courtesy of veteran Gasore Hategeka and retired Abraham Ruhumuriza, who claimed two stages.
The following year, Rwandans Gasore and retired Obed Ruvogera won one stage each before one stage win in 2015 through retired Emile Bintunimana and another in 2016, thanks to Jean Bosco Nsengimana, who was then riding for Germany's Stradalli- Bike Aid
Las year, Team Rwanda won no stage at Tour du Cameroun. However, two-time Tour du Rwanda winner Valens Ndayisenga was named the best U23 rider followed by compatriots Jean Claude Uwizeye and Rene Ukiniwabo while Nsengimana took the King of the Mountains title.
This year's edition has attracted a total of 10 teams, including six African teams led by hosts Cameroon and SNH vélo club Afrique, also from Cameroon. Others are; Côte d'Ivoire, Rwanda, Gabon and Congo Brazzaville.
The remaining four are European continental teams led by Martigues Sport Cycling, and Club de la Défense of France, Netherland's Global Cycling and Slovakian side Dukla Banska Bystrica.
Roadmap - Tour du Cameroun 2018
May 26: Stage 1
Pouma - Kribi - 154.4km
May 27: Stage 2
Kribi - Douala - 175.7km
May 28: Stage 3
Douala - Douala - 108km
May 29: Stage 4
Douala - Limbe - 85.5km
May 31: Stage 5
Mbanga - Bafang - 121.5km
June 1: Stage 6
Bafoussam - Bafoussam - 98km
June 2: Stage 7
Tonga - Tonga - 83.7km
June 3: Stage 8 -
Bafia - Yaoundé - 122.8km