Cyclists compete during the 12th Benin International Cycling Tour in Cotonou, capital of Benin, July 19, 2015. At least 96 cyclists from Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Nigeria, Senegal and Congo took part in 12th Benin International Cycling Tour. The team of Burkina Faso won the trophy for the best Castel team in the competition. (Xinhua/Polycarpe Toviho)
Cyclists compete during the 12th Benin International Cycling Tour in Cotonou, capital of Benin, July 19, 2015. At least 96 cyclists from Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Nigeria, Senegal and Congo took part in 12th Benin International Cycling Tour. The team of Burkina Faso won the trophy for the best Castel team in the competition. (Xinhua/Polycarpe Toviho)

The Tour of Rwanda international cycling competition kicked off Sunday in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, featuring 16 teams and 80 riders.

The 12th edition of the race will end on March 1 after riders from 26 countries and regions cover a distance of 899km in eight stages.

In stage 1 the cyclists cover a distance of 114.4 kilometers from Kigali to Rwamagana, in eastern Rwanda, and back to the capital.

On Monday the cyclists will head to Huye district for stage 2, a distance of 120.5 kms.

The race comprises 34 climbs with a combined elevation of 17.025 kms.

Although all stages are important there are critical stages that can determine the final result of the race.

These include stage 4 from Rusizi district to Rubavu district all in western Rwanda with 8 climbs, a distance of over 206.3km, stage 7 featuring a 4.5km time trial on the famous Wall of Kigali and the last day in the hills of Kigali with 7 challenging climbs.

The race attracted three previous Rwandan winners, Samuel Mugisha, the 2018 Tour of Rwanda winner, Jean Bosco Nsengimana, the 2015 winner, and 2017 winner Joseph Areruya.

This is the second edition of the competition since the tour was upgraded to a 2.1 category race of the International Cycling Union (UCI) from a 2.2 category.

In Africa Gabon’s La Tropicale Amissa Bongo shares the same category with the Tour of Rwanda.

Eritrean Kudus Merhawi won the Tour of Rwanda race last year after covering a distance of 959.1 kms in eight stages. Enditem

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