As anticipated, it was an Astana Pro team affair, the only World Tour team that participated at the inaugural edition of Tour du Rwanda with a double swoop on the final of the eight-day event as Eritrean Merhawi Kudus emerged the overall winner while his teammate Rodrigo Contreras Pinzon clinched a stage win.
Despite a very frustrating penultimate stage performance from the Eritrean 25-year old star in which he crashed and lost 10 seconds on his lead on the general classification, he managed to keep his composure during the gruesome 61.7km which had a total of three laps on the famous cobbled wall of Kigali and managed to finish ahead of his closest contender Taaramae Rein from Direct Energie by 10 seconds.
Kudus who claimed the yellow jersey after his stage two; Kigali-Huye before stretching the lead during stage three; Huye-Rubavu retained until the final day having used 12h12’37” while Taaramae came second with 24h12’47” while Matteo Badilatti of Israel Cycling Academy took the third place with 24h12’55”.
The 2018 African Cyclist of the year Joseph Areruya and 2017 Tour du Rwanda champion who was featuring for France’s UCI Continental Professional team Delko Marseille Provence was the best placed Rwandan rider coming in the 9th place with 24h19’47” while former champion Samuel Mugisha who plies his trade with Dimension Data for Qhubeka finished in the 18th place with 24h27’56”.
Meanwhile for stage eight, Colombian international Rodrigo Contreras also from Astana clocked 01h33’10” the claim the aggressive stage while eventual tour winner and teammate Kudus came second posting 01h34’16” same time as stage one winner Fedeli Alessandro from Delko Marseille Provence.
Penultimate stage winner Yakob debesay from Eritrea was crowned the King of the mountain with 80 points ahead of Rwandan Moise Mugisha from Team Rwanda who had 72 points while Rohan Du Plooy from Team Pro Touch of South Africa took the best sprinter award with 26 points beating Timothy Rugg who had 16 points.
Eritrean Yakob Debesay was again crowned the best young rider of the tour ahead of Joseph Areruya and Kudus also scooped the best African rider award.
Team Eritrea was the Tour’s best team after clocking a total of 72h49’16” ahead of Interpro Cycling Academy which had 72h52’09”.
A total of 78 riders from a total of 16 teams started the eight-day race and only 60 managed to finish it.