The 2018 Tour du Rwanda finished in a furious conclusion to the Kigali city circuit featuring four 12-kilometre laps over a short, but steep catégorie 4 climb before hitting the home stretch to close the 82.2-kilometre final stage with two passes over the punishing cobbled ‘Wall of Kigali’ (Cat.1) on Sunday.
In the end, it was opening stage winner Azzedine Lagab (Groupement Sportif Des Petroliers) who closed the UCI 2.2 Africa Tour road race as he started seven days earlier with a Stage 8 victory over previous stage winner and three-time runner-up David Lozano (Team Novo Nordisk) of Spain and Rwandan champion Didier Munyaneza, who was riding for national team.
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While the recently crowned Algerian time trial champion and Tour d’Algérie race winner takes dual stage honours, it was Rwandan team rider Samuel Mugisha who stood tall and attentive atop the podium with the flag draped over his shoulders as the national anthem played over the loudspeakers surrounded by hundreds of cheering onlookers.
The 20-year-old lifted the yellow jersey from Lagab following his Stage 2 victory in Huye and never relinquished his 21-second lead over second-stage runner-up and fellow countryman Jean-Claude Uwizeye (POC Côte de Lumière), who finished second on general classification ahead of Mulu Hailemichael (Ethiopia) at 1 minute 4 seconds adrift of Mugisha.
With Mugisha checking Uwizeye with every pedal stroke, Hailemichael, who was the third man in the breakaway trio headlined by the race winner on Stage 2, launched an attack after the first pass of ‘The Wall’ but to no avail. Mugisha’s win marks the fifth consecutive year that a Rwandan rider has won the Tour du Rwanda, following Joseph Areruya (2017), Valens Ndayisenga (2016, 2014) and Jean-Bosco Nsengimana (2015).
The 31-year-old Lagab moved into fourth overall on Stage 6 just ahead of Lozano (+1:27) in fifth followed by Rwandan Valens Ndayisenga (POC Côte de Lumière) in sixth at nearly a minute back (+2:26).
American Timothy Rugg (Embrace the World), who claimed his third career stage win at Tour de Rwanda following an epic 100km solo breakaway on Stage 4, dropped the mountains jersey to Hailemichael by two points, but retains the most combative jersey after five days animating the race despite battling health issues all week.
Photo: Nils Laengner
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