As Rwanda gears to host Tour du Rwanda 2021, riders have warned that lack of new cycling equipment could affect their chances of winning the tournament for the first time since it started to be held under the UCI 2.1 racing category last year.
Last week's Grand Prix Chantal Biya winner Moise Mugisha claimed the first-runner up spot during last year's Tour du Rwanda edition and has vowed to go one step better this year by winning the race.
However, the hopes of winning the tournament on his home soil could be dealt a huge blow if he and his teammates don't get new or well-maintained bikes ahead of the tournament to avoid the challenge the team faced during the Cameroon race due to lack of spare parts.
"There was a time, for instance, [Samuel] Mugisha's bike had a problem in the middle of the race and stayed behind as a result of struggling with spare parts. We are going to prepare well for Tour du Rwanda and I believe we have all it takes to win it as long as we have new equipment," Mugisha told journalists during a reception dinner to celebrate Team Rwanda's heroics on Tuesday.
The bikes that Rwandan cyclists are currently using in cycling tournaments are a donation from President Paul Kagame. The President offered 18 road bikes and eight-time trial bikes to Team Rwanda in December 2015 following their historic success at the 2014 Tour du Rwanda.
In response, Rwanda Cycling Federation's president Abdallah Murenzi said his office is in talks with the Ministry of Sports to address the issue before the Tour du Rwanda 2021 competition begins.
"I am hopeful that new bikes will have been available before the Tour du Rwanda cycling race starts. And if bikes don't get availed on time, we can also find new spare parts for the bikes that our riders are using at the moment to ensure that they perform well at next year's Tournament," Murenzi said.
The 2021 Tour du Rwanda is scheduled for February 21-28 next year.