Rwanda's only pro cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti has been left out of the Team Qhubeka squad for this year's Tour de France. (Courtesy)

Rwanda?s only pro cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti has been left out of the Team Qhubeka squad for this year?s Tour de France. (Courtesy)

Niyonshuti, who is currently competing in the Tour de Luxembourg, was on course to becoming the first Rwandan to compete at the world?s most prestigious cycling event when Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), the Tour de France event organizers included the South African team alongside Bora-Argon 18,?Bretagne-S?ch? Environment,?Cofidis,?MTN-Qhubeka and?Europcar as the recipients of the five wildcards.

?The fact that a Rwandan is part of Team Qhubeka, Africa?s first team going to the Tour de France, in itself is something to celebrate. This is a very big moment for African cycling because we are finally going to have a team representing the continent at the Tour de France,? explained Aimable Bayingana, the president of the Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY) and a member of African Cycling Confederation (CAC) executive committee.

The South African side announced the squad yesterday with seven Africans and four foreigners on the list. The competitors will depart from Utrecht, Netherlands for a 14km time trial stage.

The Eritrean trio of 2010 Tour du Rwanda winner and four-time African individual time trial champion Daniel Teklehaimanot, 2014 La Tropicale Amissa Bongo winner Natnael Berhane and Merhawi Kudus, the reigning U-23 African gold medallist are on course to becoming the first black Africans to compete in the world?s most prestigious cycling event.

On the list too is the South African trio of 2013 African cyclist of the year Louis Meintjes as well as South African national road race champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg, African continental road race champion Louis Meintjes, and sprinter Janse van Rensburg Reinardt.

Algerian rider Youcef Reguigui, winner of the 2013 Arab Road Championships is also on the list that is comprised of four non-African riders including Tyler Farrar of the US, Serge Pauwels of Belgium, Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway and Steve Cummings of Great Britain.

Meanwhile, Niyonshuti is a strong favourite to compete in the 70th edition of the Vuelta a Espana set for August 22-September 13, one of the world?s top three cycling events which also include the just concluded Giro d?Italia.

Usher Komugisha, The New Times


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