Final GC podium (l-r) Eyob, Ndayisenga, Okubamariam © Ben Andrew
November 20, 2016 (Kigali, Rwanda) – The 7th and final stage of the Tour du Rwanda concluded on Sunday in front of a massive crowd of spectators in Kigali, the Rwanda capital. Tesfom Okubamariam (Eritrea National Team) won the stage, finishing ahead of fellow countryman Metkel Eyob (Dimension Data for Qhubeka) as Rwanda’s Valens Ndayisenga, also with Dimension Data, took third and the overall yellow jersey victory. Eyob and Okubamariam finished second and third on the GC, respectively.
Rugg riding solo up the climb © Ben Andrew
Stage 7 consisted of a 108km circuit race of 9 laps, including a 400m climb of 10.3% within the last kilometer of each lap. The race was animated by a two-man breakaway which escaped on the first lap, including Timothy Rugg of LowestRates.ca and Algerian National Team rider Azzedine Lagab. The two rode well together until the 3rd lap when Lagab flatted. Rugg continued on solo, his advantage reaching nearly 2 minutes by lap 7.
Ndayisenga on a steep switchback © Ben Andrew
Yellow Jersey team Dimension Data for Qhubeka controlled the front with a brisk tempo until the 8th ascent up the climb when several GC favorites, including Ndayisenga, Eyob, and Okubamariam, attacked the remaining bunch. A select group of five riders caught Rugg with 5km to go, and immediately attacked him.
The main bunch at the base of the main climb © Ben Andrew
Rugg managed to hold off the charging pack to finish 6th on the day at 41 seconds back. Brett Wachtendorf (LowestRates.ca) finished 12th on the stage. Canadian Guillaume Boivin (Cycling Academy Team) suffered an untimely puncture which took him out of contention to contest the stage.
Final stage winner Okubamariam © Ben Andrew
With his ride today, Rugg moved up one spot on GC to finish 11th overall, at 5:59 while Wachtendorf finished 16th oveall and Edward Greene (LowestRates.ca) was 19th. Boivin ended up 41st and Cameron McPhaden (Can) LowestRates.ca placed 56th.
Boivin stuggled on the climb © Ben Andrew
The 8th edition of the Tour du Rwanda showcased a massive amount of cycling talent which has only recently been realized. The event itself is a testament to the potential for even larger professional races to be held on the African continent, and in Rwanda specifically.
The Skol cheering squad on the climb © Ben Andrew
With a massive cycling fan base, and challenging terrain, calls have already been made to hold the Road World Championships in Kigali in the near future.
1. Tesfom Okubamariam (Eri) Eritrea National Team 2:43:21
2. Metkel Eyob (Eri) Dimension Data for Qhubeka
3. Valens Ndayisenga (Rwa) Dimension Data for Qhubeka 0:03
4. Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data for Qhubeka 0:19
5. Elyas Fewerki (Eri) Eritrea National Team
6. Timothy Rugg (USA) LowestRates.ca 0:41
12. Brett Wachendorf (USA) LowestRates.ca :58
41. Edward Greene (Rsa) LowestRates.ca 4:46
51. Cameron McPhaden (Can) LowestRates.ca 13:45
52. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cycling Academy Team
1. Valens Ndayisenga (Rwa) Dimension Data for Qhubeka 21:15:21
2. Metkel Eyob (Eri) Dimension Data for Qhubeka 0:39
3. Tesfom Okubamariam (Eri) Eritrea National Team 1:30
4. Joseph Areruya (Rwa) Club Les Amis Sportifs 2:52
5. Amanuel Gebreigzabhier (Eri) Dimension Data for Qhubeka 4:05
11. Timothy Rugg (USA) LowestRates.ca 5:59
16. Brett Wachtendorf (USA) LowestRates.ca 10:45
19. Edward Greene (Rsa) LowestRates.ca 16:26
41. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Cycling Academy Team 1:13:59
56. Cameron McPhaden (Can) LowestRates.ca 2:26:53