American rider Timothy Rugg staged a stunning solo performance to win stage four (Musanze to Karongi) of the 2018 Tour du Rwanda.
The 32-year old all-round rider bossed the whole stage from the start and comfortably claimed the 135.8 kilometer distance in 3 hours, 31 minutes and 25 seconds.
This is the rider's second stage win at Tour du Rwanda following his first stage victory in 2016, the same year that he scooped a prologue (Individual Time Trial) win of the race.
Rugg who is riding for German side Team Embrace the World, was followed by Team Rwanda's duo of Samuel Hakiruwizeye (3:33:35) and Didier Munyaneza (3:33:49) in second and third place, respectively.
Italy-based Rwanda international Samuel Mugisha, 20, finished in eighth position, two minutes and twenty eight seconds adrift of the stage winner but still retained the yellow jersey.
Benjamin Teylaz Favre of Team Haute-Savoie Rhone-Alpes of France set the pace when he launched the first solo breakaway after just 7.8 kilometers, opening a 12 seconds gap to the peloton before he was joined by Joseph Kamau of Kenya Riders Safaricom at 11 kilometers where they led the bunch by 18 seconds.
As riders approached the first intermediate sprint, which was after 20.3 kilometers, Bai-Sicasal-Petro de Luanda's Bruno Araujo accelerated to beat Andrew Kamutai of Kenya Riders Safaricom to the day's first prize point.
At an average speed of 37.8km/h, Team Embrace the World's Timothy Rugg again set another tone for the race, pulling a solo attack roughly after 25 kilometers that opened a one minute and twenty seconds lead to the peloton- he never looked back.
He took the first climb of the stage after 27.3 kilometers.
As the race entered Gishwati forest, about 65 kilometres to Karongi town, Rugg who seemed to be on a mission to considerably improve his ranking on the General Classification, had stretched his lead to an overwhelming five minutes and thirty eight seconds.
The huge lead saw him comfortably take the second climb that was after 70.6 kilometres, and was followed by Ethiopian duo Mulu Hailemicheal and Desalegn Temalew.
Heading into the final 30 kilometers, the peloton chased down Rugg to cut the gap to four minutes and thirty seconds but this didn't stop him from claiming the third and final climb that was after 103.7 kilometers - this time beating Hailemicheal, Ndayisenga and Mugisha.
As Rugg began to descend into the final 16 kilometers, the chasing group had significantly cut the lead to two minutes and thirty seconds. Nonetheless, the peloton's effort to catch the American was never enough as he entered Karongi town to celebrate the stage win alone.
With the 10th Tour du Rwanda at halfway mark - four stages down and four more to go, Mugisha leads the General classification with a total time of 14h07'53" while Jean Claude Uwizeye is second, followed by Hailemicheal. Both riders level at 14h08'14" time used.
Action continues on Thursday with Stage 5 as riders tussle it out on a 95.1-kilometre ride from Karongi district to Rubavu district on the shores of Lake Kivu.
There will be two intermediate sprint points up for grabs with the first one after 13.7 kilometers and the second one at 74.9 kilometres.
Tour du Rwanda 2018:
Stage five: Karongi-Rubavu (95.1km)
Stage four: Musanze-Karongi (135.8km)
1. Timothy Rugg (Team Embrace the World) 03h31'25"
2. Samuel Hakiruwizeye (Team Rwanda) 03h33'35"
3. Didier Munyaneza (Team Rwanda) 03h33'49"
4. David Lozano (Team Novo Nordisk) 03h33'49"
5. Jean Claude Uwizeye (POC Cote de Lumière) 03h33'53"
General classification, top five
1. Samuel Mugisha (Team Rwanda) 14h07'53"
2. Jean Claude Uwizeye (POC Cote de Lumière) 14h08'14"
3. Mulu Hailemicheal (Ethiopia) 14h08'14"
4. David Lozano (Team Novo Nordisk) 14h09'44"
5. Valens Ndayisenga (POC Cote de Lumière) 14h10'06"