It was a double win for team Eritrea as 21-year old Natnael Tesfazion rose to the occasion and clinched stage four (Rusizi-Rubavu; 206.3km) and claimed the yellow jersey.
The U-23 ridee displayed his prowess beating the duo of Moise Mugisha of Skol Adrien Cycling Academy and Kent Main of Pro Touch in a sprint finish after they entered Rubavu town ahead of the chasing bunch.
Tesfazion won the longest stage after posting 5 hours, 34 minutes and 46 seconds beating Kent Main by just one second while Mugisha crossed the finish line eight seconds later.
With this win, Tesfazion claimed the yellow jersey from his compatriot Biniam Girmay Hailu who rides of Nippo-Delko who had won stage three victory on Tuesday.
The stage got underway with Ethiopian Kbrab Tesfay making an early attack after 3km that saw him clinch the first KOM points (category 2) beating Benediction Ignite’s Didier Munyaneza and Eritrean Dawit Yemane.
After 24km, seven riders Pim Ligthart (Total Energie) Natnael Tesfazion (Eritrea), Kent Main (Pro Touch), Simone Ravanelli (Androni), Barnabe Gahemba (Team Rwanda), Freddy Ovett (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Bruno Araujo (BAI) launched an attack opening a 30” lead on the peloton.
Buru Temesgen of Team Ethiopia took the first sprint points after 35km. After 45km, 19 riders were in the breakaway group 5’05” ahead of the peloton.
Carlos Oyarzun of Bai Sicasal took the second KOM (category 2) beating off Eric Manizabayo of Benediction Ignite and this point, their lead was 7’30” after 65km, the lead had stretched further to 8’.
The Chilean rider also clinched the third the KOM (category 2), fourth (category 1), fifth (category 3) however after the 85km mark, the peloton had cut the breakaway deficit to 5’16”.
After 124.6km Bruno Araújo of Bai Sicasal scooped the second sprint points of the day and the peloton’s chase had reduced the breakaway lead further down to 3’30”.
After 135km, Benediction Ignite’s Eric Manizabayo launched a solo attack opening a 40” lead to the breakaway group scooping the sixth KOM points (category 1) ahead of Oyarzun.
However his attorney was short-lived as he was caught by the breakaway group of 12 riders after 156km that had Oyarzun who claimed the seventh KOM points (category 2) while the peloton which had the yellow jersey holder was behind 2’30”.
Moise Mugisha from Skol Cycling Academy together with Eritrean Natnael Tesfazion made an attack from the breakaway opening a 1’45” lead on the breakaway and a 4’10” gap on the peloton.
As the race headed into the final 10km, Kent Main caught the duo of Mugisha and Tesfazion who were leading the peloton with 2’35”. As the trio entered the final 100m, Tesfazion successfully sprinted and won the longest stage for this year’s edition.
Stage 4: Rusizi-Rubavu (206,3 Km) awards list
1.Stage Winner: Natnael Tesfazion (Eritrea National Team)
2.Yellow Jersey: Natnael Tesfazion (Eritrea National Team)
3.Best Climber: Oyarzun Carlos (Bai Sicasal)
4.Best Sprinter: Yemane Dawit (Eritrea National Team)
5.Best Young Rider: Natnael Tesfazion (Eritrea National Team)
6.Best Combative Rider: Manizabayo Eric (Benediction Ignite, Rwanda)
7.Best African Rider: Natnael Tesfazion (Eritrea National Team)
8.Best Rwandan Rider: Mugisha Moise (SACA Team, Rwanda)
9.Team of the day: Eritrea National Team
Meanwhile tomorrow (Thursday) riders will cover 84.7km from Rubavu heading to Musanze, the second shortest stage in this year’s edition.