By Usher Komugisha,
TEAM Rwanda Cycling has drawn inspiration from the first black Africans to compete at the ongoing Tour de France that commenced last Saturday in Utrecht, Netherlands and will go on until July 26.
The Eritrean duo of Daniel Teklehaimanot and Merhawi Kudus became the first black Africans to compete at the world’s most prestigious cycling event in its 102-year history.
Reigning Tour du Rwanda winner Valens Ndayisenga who is currently training at the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland said, “This is a very big achievement for African cycling and a sure motivation for all of us.
There is hope that we can also make it to the big stage. Teklehaimanot and Kudus are great riders and we have competed against them before. We as Team Rwanda are happy for them and hope to follow in their footsteps in the future.”
Teklehaimanot trained at the high performance centre in Aigle and Ndayisenga who is training there for a second consecutive year has drawn a lot of inspiration from the Eritrean who finished sixth at the 2009 Tour de l’Avenir known as ‘mini Tour de France’, a competition that Ndayisenga will compete in next month as a member of the UCI team from August 22-29.
Teklehaimanot won the Tour du Rwanda in 2010 and went on to become the first Eritrean to compete at the Summer Olympics outside athletics finishing 73rd in the road race competition.
He won the mountain climber (polka dot) jersey at the Criterium de Dauphine last month to set pace for a historic place at the Tour de France.
Former African bronze medalist Janvier Hadi who also rides for Team Rwanda Cycling said, “This shows us that there is hope for us to be at the Tour de France in the future. It is a big step for us and having trained with him in South Africa, it really means a lot and I am very inspired.”
Hadi trained alongside Teklehaimanot in 2012 at the World Cycling Center in Potchesfroom, South Africa and believes the Eritrean duo of Teklehaimanot and Kudus have opened the path for other African cyclists to compete at the Tour de France.