Rwanda’s rider Niyonshuti promise fireworks in Mauritius event
Niyonshuti who plies his trade with Qhubeka club in Stellenbosch, South Africa, said he is aiming for a podium finish.
The 25 year old finished fourth at last year’s edition to re-write history as the first Rwandan mountain biker to qualify for the prestigious Olympics.
Niyonshuti has finished in the top ten at the Tour of Rwanda for the past five years and won the overall title in 2006 and 2008. He is also a two time (2010 & 2011) champion of the National Road Race. He also won the 2011 Tour de Kigali. According to the Rwanda Cycling Federation (RCF), their realistic aim is not a podium finish in London.
RCF permanent secretary Emmanuel Murenzi says the continental showpiece next month is a training ground for Niyonshuti to prepare for the bigger stage and focus on finishing among the top 20.
Former Olympian, 43-year old Faustin Mparabanyi, who represented Rwanda in the men’s individual road race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, agrees that Niyonshuti has great talent and with the experience he has attained in the recent years, will guide him in London.
Mparabanyi was Niyonshuti’s coach at the 2006 U-20 regional championships in Nairobi as well as the 2007 All Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria where Rwanda finished in fourth position overall, slightly missing the medal brackets.
Niyonshuti, a 1994 Genocide survivor, started riding after his uncle gave him a bicycle as a teenager and after winning the inaugural wooden bike classic in 2006, he has never looked back.
Riding, alongside American former pro cyclist and Tour de France rider Jonathan Boyer, in the 2007 ABSA Cape Epic and along the 2004 winner Mannie Heymans at last year’s edition are some of the youngster’s highlights that will be pivotal to his performance in Mauritius and London as well.
Niyonshuti’s continuous participation in different local events as well as International Cycling Union (UCI) Mountain Bike World Cup events, with the technical support of his manager Alan Nicole, will condition him for the high speed of cross country racing.