TOUR DU RWANDA
- Eyob Metkel (ERI) 02h52’54”
- Joseph Areruya (RWD) 02h52’54”
- Jean Bosco Nsengimana (RWD) 02h53’23”
- Suleiman Kangangi (KEN) 02h53’49”
- Patrick Byukusenge (RWD) 02h55’09”
Muha J. M.
Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s command of the Tour of Rwanda continued on stage 4 with Metkel Eyob claiming a fourth career stage win and Joseph Areruya moving back into the yellow jersey.
The duo crossed the line together in Nyamata having blitzed their breakaway companions and detonated the GC battle.
Areruya, winner of stages 1 and 3, now leads his teammate by 38 seconds. Suleiman Kangangi (Bike Aid) is third at 1:16 minutes. Simon Pellaud was well down on the two leaders and conceded his yellow jersey. He now sits fourth overall.
Areruya and Eyob made their stage winning move with ten kilometers to race on the fourth and final categorized climb of the 120km stage.
The duo rode away from the six-rider breakaway, pushing the pace on the fast descent into Nyamata. With no challengers on site at the finish line, the duo shook hands and looked to cross the line in unison. However, it was Eyob who took the stage honours on the line.
“It is my fourth stage in the Tour of Rwanda and I hope maybe in the next days I make it five or six,” said Eyob, who described the win as the “most special” of his four.
While the fans were cheering for Joseph ‘Hallelujah’ to take the win, the out of contract Eyob explained, “we discussed with Joseph and I took the first place.”
For the second day running, the Continental team was aiming to unseat Pellaud from the yellow jersey. In Musanze on Wednesday, the team took the win but put no time into the Swiss rider. In Nyamata, however, the stage and leader’s jersey were waiting.
“It was a very good day. We planned to take back the yellow jersey and we did that and he won the stage. I am so happy. It is good for me and good for the team,” said Eyob. “We will try to keep the yellow jersey for the next days. We came here for the yellow jersey.
Safely back in yellow, Areruya’s familiar smile was again on full display as he crossed the line and then headed for the podium. However, the 21-year-old is well aware of the challenges ahead and isn’t planning a Sunday victory parade in Kigali just yet.
“I’ve taken the yellow jersey again which is why I am very happy,” he said. “It was the plan to drop the guy who has the yellow jersey.
Now we have the yellow jersey but we have a big job as we can’t take it easy tomorrow. We have riders behind me who want the yellow jersey. That is why we have to work hard.”
How it unfolded
In the shadows of the Virunga volcano chain that raises high above Musanze, the peloton returned to the site of Wednesday’s stage finish to prepare for stage 4.
Missing from the peloton were the victims of Wednesday’s high-speed crash with Ethiopia losing two riders to injury.
On the menu as the day’s entrée was the category one climb to 2100 metres. On the approach to the ascent, the day’s first breakaway of eight riders forced a small gap but never gained more than 15 seconds on the bunch.
At the KOM, Natnael Mebrahtom (Eritrea) took maximum points from the break as the race started to blow apart. On the twisty descent, the break was slowly brought back before the attacks started once again. On the rare sections of flat road, the day’s major break formed before the long climb to Gako Village, although it was only after a flurry of attacks that the break finally forged clear.
Redwan Ebrahim (Ethiopia), Jean Claude Mfitumukiza, Jimmy Uwingeneye and Ephrem Tuyishimire (Les Amis Sportifs), Sébastien Fournet Fayard (Haute Savoie Auvergne Rhone Alpes), Saymon Musie Mehari (Eritrea), Adne Van Engelen (Bike Aid), Brett Wachtendorf (Lowestrates.ca), and Eyob made up the lead group.
The leaders built a 20-second advantage but with pressure from behind, the escape was over and race again was wide open.
On the climb, a new select group of Arreya, Eyob and teammate Kent Main, Valens Ndayisenga (Tirol), Jean Bosco Nsengimana and Patrick Byukusenge (Rwanda), Matthieu Jeannes (Haute Savoie Auvergne Rhone Alpes), Kangangi and Natnael Mebrahtom (Eritrea) formed.
At the KOM, Nsengimana took maximum points and a six-man selection was made in the front.
The fast and technical descent into Kigali suited the Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders at the head of the race and, taking advantage of their strength in numbers, they pushed the pace into Kigali.
In the final selection, the team had Eyob, Areruya and Main, with Nsengimana, Byukusenge and Kangangi for company.
Tomorrow, the race will continue with the Stage 5 from Nyamata-Rwamagana covering a total distance of 93,2 km.