In what was the most gruesome stage on a bright day with striking sunshine, Astana Pro team’s Merhawi Kudus yet again proved his supremacy and prowess as a world tour rider as he scooped stage three; the longest stage ever in Tour du Rwanda history (231.1km) in what was a stunning solo victory.
The Eritrean professional cyclist who had won stage two from Kigali-Huye on Monday, won even stage three in 05h21’15" beating his closest contender Taaramae Rein of Direct Energie by 15 seconds as he posted 05h21’30".
Despite his young age, 25, he has already participated in 6 major three-week Tours, the Tour de France in 2015 but also the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Italy. He proved today that these long distances do not frighten him, he managed his efforts with a good mastery.
18 kilometers into the race, the duo of Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Delko Marseille Provence) and Adrien Guillonnet (Interpro Cycling Academy) made the first breakaway of the day as they opened a 30’’ lead on the peleton before Rohan_du Plooy from Rohan_du Plooy South Africa’s established a counter attack and joined them after 33 kilometers.
After 36 kilometers, Team Rwanda’s Moise Mugisha joined the trio who had stretched their lead to the chasing bunch of 1’50”. On a speed of 42.2km/h in the first hour, the quartet had further stretched their lead on the peloton to three minutes.
After 72.8 kilometers, the quartet were in for the first intermediate sprint of the day which Rohan_du Plooy well claimed, however he was also beaten to the first KOM points of the day by Mugisha which was after 85.4kilometeres.
Nonetheless, Rohan_du Plooy later took again points for the second intermediate sprint which was after 146.2km, however this time the peloton led by yellow jersey holder and eventual stage winner Kudus was attacking the leading pack and the gap had reduced to 2’15”.
As the race approached the third KOM point of the day, the breakaway was caught by the peloton before another breakaway of six riders namely Merhawi Kudus (Astana Pro team), Rodrigo Contreras (Astana Pro team), Hailemichael Mulu (Dimension Data for Qhubeka), Badilatti Matteo (Israel Cycling Academy), Henok Mulueberhan (Eritrea) & Aguirre Ricardo (Interpro Cycling Academy) within the 66 Kilometers.
With 55km to the finish line, Astana Pro team duo of Merhawi Kudus and Rodrigo Contreras made an attack from the breakaway before the latter claimed the third KOM points of the day.
Kudus later also scooped the fourth KOM points, however this time he had been caught by the duo of Badilatti Matteo and Taaramae Rein of Direct Energie as his teammate Rodrigo Contreras had been dropped.
Nonetheless, Kudus again beat the duo to the final KOM points of the day before making a solo attack in the final 10km and astonishingly claimed the gruesome stage in solo victory much more than Monday’s.
This victory saw him not only retain the yellow jersey but also extended his lead on the general classification beating his closest contenders Taaramae Rein by seventeen seconds in the second place, Badilatti Matteo with 45 seconds in the third place while his teammate Rodrigo Contreras is in the fourth place, one minute behind.
2018 African cyclist of the year Joseph Areruya (Delko Marseille Provence) is in the ninth place 9’54” second behind while defending champion Samuel Mugisha is in the 30th place so far 20’25”.
Meanwhile on the fourth day of the ongoing tour, stage four will head in Karongi district on the shores of Lake Kivu from Rubavu, where riders will 102.6km.