A trainee at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle (Switzerland) last summer, Valens Ndayisenga has become the first Rwandan cyclist in history to win the Tour du Rwanda.

The 20-year-old took victory after a consistent performance over the seven stages. He claimed the leader’s jersey after winning the second 151.5km stage between Rwamagana and Musanze.  The stage victory was symbolic in that it started in the town where Ndayisenga was born and finished in Musanze, which houses the Africa Rising Cycling Centre, managed by former pro Jonathan Boyer and where the Rwandans train.

Already a talented cyclist, Ndayisenga spent the summer this year training at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) in Switzerland. It was a steep learning curve for the young athlete, who was able to train with athletes from all over the world and to gain race experience in Europe.

After his victory, the young athlete said his time in Europe had been beneficial: “I have gained lots of experience from training alongside good riders in Switzerland and France. The coaches also gave us useful tips on how to work as a team in such elite races.”

“He is one of the best Africans in the Under-23 category,” confirms WCC coach Jean-Jacques Henry. “Technically he had a lot of shortcomings when he came to us. He had enormous qualities in the mountains but had difficulty in the descents and staying in a peloton.

“Considering his huge potential, his win in Rwanda is no great surprise,” said the coach, who added that Ndayisenga has been invited to return to the centre in Aigle next summer.

Second overall in the Tour du Rwanda, 58 seconds behind Ndayisenga, was another Rwandan Jean Bosco Nsengimana. He was one of 14 trainees from the UCI World Cycling Centre satellite in Potchefstroom, South Africa, who spent several weeks training at the centre in Aigle over the European summer.