National cycling team (Team Rwanda) riders have intensived their training regime ahead of the forthcoming 2019 edition of Tour du Rwanda which will run from February 24 through March 3.
Some of the preparations are underway at Africa Rising Cycling Centre (ARCC) in Musanze District, Northern Province.
According to Team Rwanda head coach Sterling Magnel, the riders are not only training on the routes that will be used for the competition but also studying the terrain to gain an advantage over their competitors.
"It's going to be a tough competition at the international level but I have urged the riders to be positive, after all, they have nothing to lose. All the teams are strong and it will be a real test for us," Magnel said.
This will be the first time Tour du Rwanda is held as a 2.1 race.
This year will be the first time that Tour du Rwanda will be staged at the beginning of the year, something meant to facilitate big teams from all over the world to able to participate in.
Riders who are in camp are Samuel Mugisha, Joseph Areruya, Valens Ndayisenga, Jean Claude Uwizeye, Didier Munyaneza, Patrick Byukusenge, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana and Jean Bosco Nsengimana.
Others who will join after Tour d'Espoir in Cameroon are Moise Mugisha, Eric Manizabayo, Samuel Hakiruwizeye and Jean Damascene Rubwera.
During the past editions, the total prize money was US$23,860 (about Rwf19.7 million) but it will be increased at least by five folds as the race gears up to start a new era.
Tour du Rwanda, previously a 2.2 race, became part of UCI Africa in 2009 and it has since grown to attract over 500 riders from across the world.
Rwanda's Samuel Mugisha is the reigning champion. He is the fourth Rwandan to win the race after Valens Ndayisenga (2014, 2016), Jean Bosco Nsengimana (2015) and Joseph Areruya in 2017.