Extensive training despite the covid-19 measures helped Rwanda’s national cycling team to prepare its six-man strong athletes ahead of the Cameroon hosted Grand Prix Chantal Biya 2020.
Team coach Felix Sempoma tactically took advantage of Rwanda’s hilly terrain and well paved road-network to propel his athletes into a continuous challenge before they flew out of the country to compete in a 699km race in Cameroon.
Sempoma was handed to coach Team Rwanda in November and has managed to emerge as the best performer of the ten teams that showed up at the Grand Prix Chantal Biya 2020.
“We’re a good team with some experience and young energetic riders. We prepared well,” Sempoma said, adding that he was going to put up a good fight and indeed the 5-day race ended in the hands of Team Rwanda on Sunday.
At the competition, there were two participating teams from Europe represented by the French military team and Dukkla Banska Bystrica from Slovakia.
The competing teams included; Dukla Banska Bystrica, Ivory Coast,Burkina Faso, Senegal,Democratic Republic of the Congo, Benin, Rwanda, Mali, Cameroon, and SNH Vélo Club.
Moïse Mugisha, Rnus Byiza Uhiriwe, Patrick Byukusenge, Didier Munyaneza, Joseph Areruya and Samuel Mugisha are the star performers that carried the Rwandan flag in Cameroon.
On the onset Moise Mugisha won the first stage race grabbing a Yellow Jersey which he jealously defended throughout the five stages; “I intend to keep the jersey until the end,” Mugisha said after winning the first stage on 18th November.
Mugisha’s chances to propel Team Rwanda into the race champions status were multiplied after winning stage 4 on Saturday with grand speed in time for 2:46:33.
The hosts Cameroon were looking forward to win this competition but couldn’t come close to the well prepared Rwandans.
Honore Yossi the head of Cameroon cycling federation said at the official launch of the race on Tuesday that the competition was taking place within a context marked by the Covid-19 pandemic which caused competitions in the federation to be cancelled or postponed for eight months, hence depriving Cameroon cyclists of preparing well for this race.
On September 22, David Lappartient the President of International Cycling Association (ICA), issued a statement announcing the postponement of the race. The cycling competition had been originally scheduled to take place from October 6-11 but was pushed to November.
According to the letter of postponement addressed to the Cameroon Cycling Federation, the reason given was due to the non-payment of bills of previous competitions and the strict barrier measures put in place by the Cameroon government in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.
cameroon has two competitions in the UCI including; the Tour of Cameroon and the Chantal Biya International Cycling Race.
It should also be noted that in 2018, Team Rwanda won the Tour of Cameroon. Cyclist Bonaventure Uwizeyimana emerged as the winner of the Tour du Cameroun 2018. Uwizeyimana clocked 21hours, 53 minutes and 20 seconds, meaning he was three minutes and 38 seconds adrift of Haring Martin who was second on the list.
In the same competition Tour of Cameroon 2018, Patrick Byukusenge came in the fourth place generally having clocked five minutes and 25 seconds behind Uwizeyimana.
For the past years, Rwandans have adjusted to Cameroon terrain and its two competitions- it is therefore not a surprise that Team Rwanda has taken this year’s Chantal Biya International Cycling Race.
Moïse Mugisha becomes the first Rwandan to win the annual Chantal Biya International Cycling Race.
Chantal Biya International Cycling Race: General Classfication
Moïse Mugisha (Team Rwanda)-16:20:47
Kubiš Lukáš (Slovak) –16:00:39
Kamzong Clovis (SNH Velo Club)-16:00:45
Daumont Paul (Burkina Faso)-16:00:53
Cisse Isiaka (Ivory Coast)-16:00:53