Ngoma- Rwanda’s Hadi Janvier raised the country’s hopes of a Rwandan rider to win Tour of Rwanda by retaining the yellow Jersey after the first stage of the 2014 cycling tour.
Hadi, who won the prologue on Sunday, was among the first people to arrive at the finishing line in Ngoma town, Eastern Province in an action packed stage which registered one of the closest finishes in the history of Tour of Rwanda.
Eritrean Debesay Mekseb, currently ranked number one on the continent, who rides for the German team Bike Aid, narrowly won the 96.4km stage from Kigali to Ngoma district, after he used 2h36’37”.
Mekseb crossed the line after sprinting ahead of the rest of the pack. The stage saw the teams remain in one peloton despite some cyclists attempting to break away, including Rwanda’s Hategeka Gasore, AS.BE.CO’s Tesfastion Mehari and Ethiopia’s Giday Kibrom.
But soon after the first climb at Musha, the rest of the riders caught up with the breakaway group, forming one peloton up to the finish line.
However, the Eritrean would prove the strongest as he powered his way to the line ahead of the rest, leaving the rest to scramble for the remaining places.
Thousands of people lined the roads, from Kigali all the way to the Eastern Province to catch a glimpse of the Tour and cheer on their favourite riders.
Team South Africa’s Rohan Du Plooy became the first rider to abandon the race after only 5km following an accident.
Having performed excellently on the opening day on Sunday, Team Rwanda riders attempted to match their initial performance despite Valens Ndayisenga of Team Karisimbi sustaining an early puncture.
His teammate Bonaventure Uwizeyimana was the first Rwandan rider to cross the line in sixth position to join four of his country mates topping the general classification list. He joined Hadi, Ndayisenga, Bosco Nsengimana and Joseph Biziyaremye.
However Hadi, having finished 27th, will have to battle hard against the Eritreans and Ethiopians to retain the yellow jersey on Tuesday during the second longest stage of the Tour from Rwamagana to Musanze, stretching 151km.
“I got quite exhausted at some point, also the fact that we were packed in one group increased the pressure on me but I believe I will do better tomorrow after a good rest,” Hadi said.
Team AS.BE.CO’s Aron Debretsion emerged the best climber after the first stage while Ndayisenga took the ‘youngest best performer’ jersey.
Despite a few late disappointments of last minute pull out by the Kenyan and Algerian teams, according to Aimable Bayingana, the President of Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY), the 13 teams taking part are promising to put up the best Tour of Rwanda.
“The numbers of people who have turned up to support cycling as a sport is overwhelming. This shows that Rwandans have grown to embrace cycling as their favourite sport. We have also ensure that it is well organised in order for it to be as competitive as possible.” Mr Bayingana said.
- Debesay Mekseb- Team Bike Aid 02h:26’37”
- Debretsion Aron- Team As. Be. Co 02h:26’37”
- Afewerki Elyas Eritrea 02h:26’37”
- Dawit Haile Eritrea- 02h:26’37”
- Buru Temesgen-Ethiopia 02h:26’37”
- Uwizeyimana Bonaventure-Rwanda Karisimbi 02h:26’37”
- Nel Dirk-South Africa 02h:26’37”
- Saber Lahcen- Morocco 02h:26’37”
- Yemane Bereket- Eritrea 02h:26’37”
- Welderfiel Yohannes- AS.BE.CO 02h:26’37”
- Hadi Janvier Rwanda Karisimbi 2h30’41”
- Ndayisenga Valens Rwanda Karisimbi 2h30’43”
- Nsengimana Jean Bosco Rwanda Karisimbi 2h 30’ 44”
- Uwizeyimana Bonaventure Rwanda Karisimbi 2h30”45”
- Biziyaremye Joseph Rwanda Karisimbi 2h30’48”
- Debesay Mekseb Team Bike Aid 2h30’48”