Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay Hailu is favourite to win this year’s race after he took the yellow jersey during Tuesday’s stage 3 race from Huye to Rusizi.
After three stages, Biniam has clocked 9 hours, 36 minutes and 28 seconds in the General Classification and is five seconds ahead of his countryman Henok Mulueberhan who rides for the Eritrea national team.
Eritrean Biniam, who rides for Delko Marseille, took the yellow jersey from Yevgenyi Fedorov who ride for Astana Vino after managing well the stage three from Huye to Rusizi in distance of 142km.
“There is a bit of pressure now because I have taken the yellow jersey but I am looking forward to winning this most important race and there is a chance of that happening. We will try to work as a team in order to keep the jersey,” Biniam told Times Sport.
Rwanda fielded three elite teams which include Benediction Ignite, Skol Adrien Cycling Academy and Team Rwanda with five riders in each team but all have failed to win a single stage, the first time such a thing has happened in a long time.
Joseph Areruya, in 13th position in the general classification is the best performing Rwandan in the race so far.
However, Areruya admitted that they will keep fighting until the end: “We (riders) are very fit, in good physical condition, and some of us have acquired enough experience, so we expect better results in the next stages. We will not give up until the final day.”
The riders will race from Rusizi to Rubavu on Thursday, this route promises to be exceptional with long climbs on almost all stages, including 4,279 metres in Stage 4 that will have a gruesome 206.3km distance – the longest stage of the eight-day competition.