by Tyler D’Arcy
Cycling fans lined the roads in huge numbers, eager to cheer on the cyclists and show their support. Photo: Tyler D'Arcy
Timothy Rugg of Team Lowestrates.ca getting low through a corner on his ride to the top step of the podium. Photo: Tyler D'Arcy
Rwandan cyclist Amanuel Gebreigzabhier of Dimension Data for Qhubeka powering to a second place finish. Photo: Tyler D'Arcy
Fans lined the prologue course to support their favorite international and Rwandan riders. Photo: Tyler D'Arcy
Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Cycling Academy Team) finished in fourth place. Photo: Tyler D'Arcy
Gasore Hategeka of Team Rwanda after his 26th place performance in the Tour du Rwanda prologue. Photo: Tyler D'Arcy
On Sunday, the eighth edition of the Tour du Rwanda got underway in the nation’s capital city of Kigali. The UCI 2.2 stage race is the last event on the UCI Africa Tour calendar for 2016. In total, 73 riders from 17 teams took the start line at the Amahoro Stadium for the 3.3km prologue including three Canadians. Guillaume Boivin of the Cycling Academy, and Gatineau, Quebec-based Team Lowestrates.com members Cameron McPhaden and Stephen Keeping are all in Rwanda to contest the seven stage race.
American Timothy Rugg of the Canadian Team Lowestrates.ca finished the day with the fastest time completing the course in four minutes on the dot. “I had high hopes of getting in the top ten today,” said Rugg. “The win is really a nice surprise.”
Three seconds behind Rugg was Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eritrea/Dimension Data for Quebeka) in second place with Joseph Areruya (Rwanda/Les Amis Sportif) in third. Boivin of the Cycling Academy had a strong start to the Tour du Rwanda as well, finishing only four seconds back of the winners time in fourth. Also four seconds behind the winner in fifth position was the winner of the 2015 edition, Jean Bosco Nsengemana of Rwanda riding for Stadelli- Bike Aid.
— Tour du Rwanda (@TourofRwanda) November 13, 2016
Despite being a trade team, Lowestrates.ca traveled to Rwanda with a dual mission team manager Frédérick Gates told Canadian Cycling Magazine in September when the team launched the Rwanda Velo Project. The team arrived in Rwanda one week before racing started with luggage that was packed with cycling equipment and clothing.
During the Canadian teams first week in the country, the donations were distributed to Rwandan cycling teams and foundations in an effort to contribute to the growth of the sport in the country.
“The first part of our mission has been a great success,” said Gates. “We met with Team Rwanda and the Adrien Niyonshuti Cycling Academy who will make sure our donations get into the right hands. The second part of our mission which is to race strong in the Tour du Rwanda, is off to an excellent start with Tim’s win in the prologue today.”
Monday’s Stage 1 travels 96 km from Kigali to Ngoma. This will be the flattest and shortest stage of the tour. With one Cat. 3 climb of 2.4 km at 4.1 percent and undulating elevation profile all day long the stage is suited for the faster finishers. The climbers will have to wait until Tuesday to enter their preferred terrain in the country of a thousand hills.
2016 Tour du Rwanda Prologue
1) Timothy Rugg (U.S./Team Lowestrates.ca) 00:04:00
2) Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eritrea/Dimension Data for Qhubeka) +0:03
3) Joseph Areruya (Rwanda/Club Les Amis Sportif de Rwanda) +0:03
4) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Cycling Academy Team) +0:04
32) Cameron McPhaden (Canada/Team Lowestrates.ca) +0:18
37) Stephen Keeping (Canada/Team Lowestrates.ca) +0:20