The opening stage of the 2017 Tropicale Amissa Bongo did not go well for the six Team Rwanda cyclists who are flying the country’s flag on day one in Gabon.
Team Rwanda rider Bonaventure Uwizeyimana who is among the other six cyclists is the only rider who finished, in the 16th position, while Jean Paul René Ukiniwabo finished 27th, Jérémie Karegeya 42nd, Eric Nduwayo 46th, Samuel Hakiruwizeye 47th and Alex Nzeyimana 56th.
Mikel Aristi from France imposed speed to win 1st stage when he crossed the finish line with a time of 03h42’59’ ahead of country mate Tony Hurel and Stanislau Bazhkou (Biélorussie) in the second and third place respectively.
On the long stage of 150 kilometers under a temperature of 30 ° on Monday, the riders found hilly roads that could exhaust the organisms from the first day.
Only 30 kilometers from the finish line was Eritrean Elyas Afewerki, who maintained a three-minute lead just before weakening 14 kilometers before Akiéni.
The riders from Minsk and Delko Marseille who were already preparing for the final sprint had accelerated the pace.
Under the banner of the last kilometer, Thomas Voeckler attacked strongly. The rider of Direct Energie remembered that he had won his only victory of stage to the Tropicale in the same place in 2012.
Finally the team Delko Marseille launched Mikel Aristi in the best conditions to win his first professional stage victory.
“This is my first race in Africa and I’m happy to win right away, Mikel Aristi said. “I was obviously thinking about the final sprint this morning but the day was so difficult I was wondering if it was still possible”
“Finally everything was well organized in the final with my teammates who prepared the sprint very well. We are more accustomed to talking about the Spanish riders like climbers especially the Basques like me who are surrounded by mountains. But my physical forced me to aim at the sprints.” Mikel told a press conference.
Stage 2 will see riders taking on the Léconi-Franceville (80 km) journey known for its difficulty to climb 3km.
Stage One Results
Mikel Aristi Gardoki (France) 03h42’59’
3Tony Hurel (France) 03h42’59’
Stanislau Bazhkou (Biélorussie) 03h42’59”
Yohann Gene (France) 03h42’59”
Meron Teshome (Eritrea) 03h42’59”
Meron Abraham (Eritrea) 03h42’59”
Soufiane Sahraoui (Morocco) 03h42’59”
Siarhei Papok (Biélorussie) 03h42’59”
Abdelkader Belmokhtar (Algeria) 03h42’59”
Asbjorn Kragh Andersen (France) 03h42’59”