Team Rwanda has been invited to take part in the illustrious Ride London Classic on 31st July, in Britain’s greatest one-day bike race where the 2016 edition will be a fast and furious showdown of 150 of the world’s top pro cyclists on a 200km route through London and Surrey.
Team Rwanda currently has four young rising stars on a month-long UK Tour to give them vital experience of elite criterium and one-day road races. More used to major UCI stage races, the riders have been taking part in the British Cycling Motorpoint national series over the past few weeks as Team Rwanda-Dassi Bikes in partnership with Dassi as the UK’s only manufacturer of carbon racing bikes.
As these young riders from the national squad are in the UK at the same time as the Ride London Classic, Mick Bennett - the race’s organiser - has invited them to take part: "We heard that a Team Rwanda Development Team was on a debut UK tour, racing some of the National Series and that they are doing well. As the Ride London Classic is one of the premiere international one day races, we wanted to extend an invitation to these young riders to have a unique experience racing against the world’s best to help them understand the level they need to achieve to attract the attention of the pro teams".
Now in its fourth year, the Ride London Classic (Category 1.HC on the UCI Europe Tour) offers the highest prize money pool of any one-day Classic, will be televised live by BBC Sport and has attracted the leading World Tour and Pro Continental teams. It will be a major element of the learning curve for these young riders and will be the highest profile race in which a Rwandan team has so far taken part.
Aimable Bayingana, President of the Rwandan National Cycling Federation (FERWACY) is very excited about this: "Team Rwanda Cycling has been a huge success for sport in our country. It is less than ten years since it was established. This is a result of the effort of many people here and friends of Rwanda around the world and without them this team would not be what it is today,” he said adding that the UK Tour is a key element in the development of our young riders and hearing they have been invited to compete in the prestigious Ride London Classic against the world’s top riders is another exciting milestone for us.
“I applaud the efforts of all our friends in the UK for the support to Team Rwanda and encourages them to continue".
This will be a big moment for the young U23 development riders to start a race alongside, in many cases, their heroes. The head coach, ex-US professional cyclist Sterling Magnell, who is leading the UK Tour explains: "For me as a former pro, the level of racing we are seeing on our UK Tour has been fast, technical and elite. Being invited to compete in the Ride London Classic is a honour for our team and will help our young riders understand the level of performance needed for them to compete at very highest level in the next stage of their journey."
The riders who will take part are Jean Bosco Nsengimana (winner of the 2015 Category 2.2 UCI 2.2 Tour of Rwanda), Joseph Areruya, Jean Claude Uwizeye and Samuel Mugisha.
With two of senior riders heading to Rio in a few weeks (Adrien Niyonshuti - Road Race; Nathan Byukusenge - MTB Race), it really is a great time for Rwandan cycling. Jock Boyer, ex-US pro cyclist and original founder of Team Rwanda, comments: "It’s a great opportunity for these young riders to see what level they need to get to. This is a vital learning experience for all of them."
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