Tour of Rwanda – the country of one-thousend hills
Sitting at Istanbul airport and just reflecting what I was able to experience the last couple of days. It’s kind of strange and unbelievable but it feel also great finishing 6th overall in a UCI 2.2 stage race at my second stage race ever.
To take the decision to go to Rwanda was simple to me. Right before the cx season and in the first have of the it I couldn’t train hard enough to be ready for the cross competitions. Also I needed a training camp which pushed me to my physical limits. The Tour of Rwanda with it’s altitude and changeable weather conditions seemed to be perfect for my plan.
Facts Tour of Rwanda:
- 1 prolog and 7 stages
- 950 km
- 15’000 meters of altitude
- average altitude 1800 meters above sea level
- 14 teams
- 70 riders from 4 different continents
I knew it would take me some stages to get into the race feeling of a stage race like this. So I was surprised the prolog went that well for me. During the first two stages I tried to keep the 13th spot in the GC. It worked pretty well, I only lost two spots when the stages one and two were done.
Every day my legs felt better and I felt ready for the harder stages coming up in the mountains. So I was able to stay with the chasing group one GPM before the final climb on stage three. At the final climb I still had very strong legs and sprinted to a very nice 5th place.
The other few stages worked almost the same. Riding as fast as we could, climbing, riding thru heavy rain and staying tuned for the finish.
So with great effort I was able to catch up the top five in the GC before the final stage.
The 7th and last stage was a round course in the centre of Kigali. A really hard loop with a lot of altitude and slippery turns. 10 laps of 12K and 200 meters of altitude each.
Attacks were made all the time and everyone was pushing as hard as they could to save a last stage win. When it started to rain again, the peloton got nervous because the roads got even more slippery. And unfortunately I was involved in one of many crashes and had to fight back to the peloton with an other rider. I was glad to be back for the finish but we still had two laps to go and of course just after being back I had a flat. That meant for me to change the wheel as soon as possible to not loose any important spots at the GC. After that I had to close the gap once again and it took me a whole lap to do so. Meanwhile I suffered alone, the Rwanda and Eritrean riders attacked the front and broke away.
I knew there was going to be a last climb a couple of hundred meters to the finish, so I saved my energy and sprinted to second place of the peloton and saved an other nice top ten spot for the last stage.
The race was won by an Eritrean rider who also passed me in the GC.
Some impressions of the Tour du Rwanda following below.