ALL Team Rwanda riders have entered camp at the Musanze-based Africa Rising Cycling Centre as the team step up final preparations ahead of 2019 Tour du Rwanda, which is scheduled to run from February 24 through March 3.
Unlike in the last ten years when Rwanda used to be represented by three teams, this time around the hosts will field just two teams - the national team (Team Rwanda) and Benediction Cycling Club, who are in the process of registering as a UCI Continental Team - each with five riders.
This will be the first time Tour du Rwanda is held as a 2.1 category race following its elevation last year.
This year's race will see riders take on a gruesome stage 3 from Huye to Rubavu, a 213.1km race, the longest stage in the history of the annual event.
In total, the 16-team peloton will cover 959.1km over the course of eight days. Tour du Rwanda, which first became a UCI-Africa race in 2009, becomes a 2.1 race boasting seven stages and a prologue.
Africa's biggest cycling race will start in Kigali and the overall winner will be decided on the ultimate stage with the famous 'Wall of Kigali', which the riders will climb four times before heading to the finish line at Kigali stadium in Nyamirambo.
Coach Sterling Magnell and his assistant Felix Sempoma, who is also the owner Benection Club, will select ten riders from 12 who will represent the two Rwandan teams.
Rwandan Joseph Areruya will be riding for his club Delko Marseille of France while his fellow Tour du Rwanda winner and compatriot Samuel Mugisha will be featuring for his South African side Dimension Data.
Moise Mugisha, Eric Manizabayo, Samuel Hakiruwizeye and Jean Damascene Rubwera all joined the camp on Sunday shortly after returning from Cameroon where they participated in Tour de l'Espoir.
Defending champion Samuel Mugisha, 2017 winner Joseph Areruya, and two time winners Valens Ndayisenga and Jean Bosco Nsengimana will be out to try and win Tour du Rwanda's first edition as a 2.1 race.
Riders in camp:
Team Rwanda: Valens Ndayisenga, Jean Claude Uwiyeze, Jean Damascene Ruberwa, Moise Mugisha, & Samuel Hakiruwizeye
Benediction Club: Jean Bosco Nsengimana, Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, Eric Manizabayo, Didier Munyaneza, & Patrick Byukusenge.
Full 16-team list
UCI World Tour: Astana Pro Team (Kazakhstan)
National teams: Rwanda, Algeria, Cameroun, Kenya Eritrea and France U23
UCI Continental Teams: Dimension Data for Qhubeka (South Africa), Pro Touch Team (South Africa), Nice Ethiopia pro team, Bai Sicasal Petro de Luanda (Angola), Interpro Stradalli Cycling (Japan) and Benediction Continental Team (Rwanda).
UCI Professional Continental Teams: Team Nova Nordisk (Spain), Direct Energie (France) and Delko Marseille Provence (France).