Rwandans do not know if they need to rejoice or get annoyed after learning that the much loved and powerful young riders from Eritrea won’t show up on this year’s edition of Tour of Rwanda competition.
The formidable Eritrean Team was seen last year beating the continents finest cyclists both at the Tour of Rwanda and the 6th African Continental Cycling Championship competitions, both held in Rwanda one after the other, to become the winners and champions respectively.
Rwandan fans used to go wild whenever Eritrean riders won the stage. They will never forget the big names like Daniel Teklehaimanot, Natnael Berhane, and Frekalsi Debesai whenever they heard about Eritrea and cycling.
However, when they realized that Team Eritrea has pulled out of the tournament, they experienced some kind of mixed feelings: Confused, annoyed or cheerful. Some reports shows that Rwandan fans are really shocked and annoyed to see their favorite riders missed this year’s competition and in fact even got confused to the extent of determining who will be this year’s winner.
Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) later issued a statement explaining that Eritrea’s decision to skip this year’s race was only due to the country’s hosting of the African Championship competition in Asmara, with only one week difference from the Tour of Rwanda.
On the other hand, Rwandans received Eritrea’s pull out positively because it might be a good omen for one of their best and hopeful rider, Adrien Niyonshuti, who has been struggling for the last three years just to win.
Rwanda’s veteran rider Bernard Nsengiyumva has said that Rwandan cyclists are more likely to win due to the absence of their Eritrea’s competitors like Daniel Teklehaimanot in this year’s Tour of Rwanda.
In the just concluded 7th African Championship, Eritrea hosted and won all the gold medals in the Men’s race to become the top cycling nation on the continent for the second year in a raw. Team Rwanda coach Jonathan boyer was seen deeply disappointed by the performance of his team during the competition. Accordingly, Adrien Niyonshuti finished a distant 16th while the rest of the team tied in 27th, 28th and 36th place.
Compared to last year’s 1,119.1Km race that was spread over nine stages, this year’s Tour of Rwanda only covers 744.9Km spreading over seven stages.
Last year’s champion Daniel Teklehaimanot won the 1,119.1km race by clocking 29:02:32, which is 56 seconds faster than his compatriot and teammate Natnael Berhane who later became this year’s African Champion.
As Eritrea managed to retain its title this year at the African Championship, it will certainly return to Rwanda next year to defend its other title: Winner of Tour of Rwanda 2010.