On 7 July 2016, a team of the best young U23 cyclists from Team Rwanda, the national cycling team of Rwanda, arrive at Heathrow for their first ever UK racing tour – taking part in 12 elite road races and criteriums in four weeks across the country – competing as Team Rwanda-Dassi.
Welcoming the team to the UK, the Preident of British Cycling Bob Howden said: “While it is always great to see international teams competing in British races, I am particularly thrilled to see a team from Africa on our roads. Team Rwanda-Dassi deserve great support – not only for the endeavours of their riders but also because of their mission to develop cycling in their own country – and I trust British cycling fans will give them a royal welcome.”
The team is led by Sterling Magnell (Team Rwanda’s Head Coach) with four of their strongest young talents: Jean Bosco Nsengimana (winner of the 2015 Tour of Rwanda), Joseph Areruya, Jean Claude Uwizeye and Samuel Mugisha. The team arrives in good shape after a strong showing at the recent Vuelta a Colombia.
The team have also partnered with Dassi Bikes, the UK’s only handmade carbon bike manufacturer and Dassi CEO Stuart Abbott explains: “We are proud to support such an inspirational team who echo the values of our very British brand; Passion, performance and excellence and I am personally excited to see how the team perform against riders from the UK.”
Team Rwanda-Dassi is taking on the cream of UK cycling in several Motorpoint sponsored elite races in July, including: two rounds of the British Cycling Grand Prix Series – the Ryedale Grand Prix and the Grand Prix of Wales; two rounds of the British Cycling Elite Circuit Series – The Wales Open Criterium and the Chepstow Grand Prix (both key elements of the famous Abergavenny Festival of Cycling).
These are all elite races in some of the UK’s most dramatic and beautiful scenery and their riders are excited to show the talent that Rwanda’s cycling programme is producing. They are also looking forward to racing several circuit races at the Dulwich Paragon Crit Series and Lee Valley Summer Circuit League as well as the London Dynamo Summer Road Race.
The UK Tour is also being supported by performance clothing company X-Bionic, cycling component manufacturer 3T and vacuum bike mount specialist SeaSucker. These tour partners supplement the componentry and kit being supplied by long-term Team Rwanda sponsors’ Campagnolo, Garneau, Vittoria, Jagwire, LOOK, SIDI, DeFeet, CLIF and Oakley.
Team Rwanda’s Head Coach Sterling Magnell views this tour as a vital element in the continued development of these young cyclists: “We are heading to the UK to face the challenge of turning our best young Rwandan talent who possess world class pedal power into cornering and close quarters racing masters. This is the biggest gap in our riders’ cycling education and I hope that the skills gained in the UK will translate into their power being better utilized in the high level international events where they can prove their panache to the world and get on the radar of professional teams.”
Team Rwanda was formed by survivors of the terrible genocide in 1994 as a way to begin the healing process between people who were subjected to horrific circumstances. Many of their riders lost vast numbers of family members and in most cases are now the main income generators for large family groups.
The team is now the leading sports team in Rwanda and gives hope and inspiration to millions of Rwandans still recovering from their past, both at home and around the world, that they can once again be proud of their nation and their heritage.
Despite their humble heritage, Team Rwanda was earlier this year named the number one U23 cycling nation in Africa in the UCI Continental rankings. This is made all the more remarkable as the team is a non-profit organisation and relies on donations from fans for funds and philanthropy in the cycling industry for equipment and support.
A full race schedule and further information can be found on the tour’s website here: https://teamafricarising.org/uk-tour-2016/