Race: Tour du Rwanda (February 23-March 1, 2020)
Total Distance: 889 kilometers
Race Class: UCI 2.1 (Africa Tour)
Atlanta, GA – American UCI ProTeam, Team Novo Nordisk, will return to the Tour du Rwanda at the end of February looking for additional success at Africa’s premier stage race.
The world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team has a history of strong performances at the eight-day race after David Lozano took the team’s second victory in its eighth-year history when he soloed to the win on Stage 7 and finished fifth overall (2018) an. He continued to build on these results when he finished fourth on Stage 4 and sixth overall at last year’s edition. The Spanish climber will the lead the team at this year’s race.
With four of the riders traveling directly to Rwanda after racing at altitude at the third edition of the Tour Colombia, senior Vice President of Athletics Vassili Davidenko is confident of the team’s chances of performing well in Rwanda.
“There are no major changes to this year’s race profile, we have the best roster in place with previous experience racing in Rwanda and full knowledge of what to expect during the race,” said Davidenko. “Racing at high elevation in Colombia and coming straight into Rwanda will definitely be a benefit to us. The guys should be in good condition, and it will help us to be stronger than previous years.”
French puncheur and fellow GC contender Charles Planet (FRA) will make his season debut at the African race, and strong support will come from Sam Brand (GBR-Isle of Man), Oliver Behringer (SUI) and Joonas Henttala (FIN).
“The entire team had a good winter of preparation and most are fortunately to arrive with the racing speed of Colombia in the legs,” continued Davidenko. “We feel that we are more prepared this time around and our goal is to support David for another top result.”
“The roster we have selected for Rwanda is very competitive and we want to achieve a high finish on the general classification along with some positive stage results.“
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 22 years old, 2020 marks Lozano’s eighth season with Team Novo Nordisk, the Spanish climber is an 11-time Spanish national champion in mountain-bike and cyclocross racing. His 2019 season saw him win the mountains classification at the Tour of Taiyuan along with a top 10 overall finish at the Chinese race and sixth on the general classification at the Tour du Rwanda.
“Last year, I had a good performance in Rwanda, but I missed a bit of race pace and competition in my legs, so the approach this year with Colombia before Rwanda makes me think that we can do much better. At least this is the plan,” explained Lozano.
“Of course, we will be waiting until closer to the race to hear the definite plan from the sports director, but I want to perform well and go for some stage results and see how the fight for the overall goes. I’ll let my racing do the talking and maybe I will find myself in a good position, in good shape and we can aim for both.”
The 2020 race changes little from previous editions and covers 889 kilometers over eight stages, bookended by the first and last stages in the capital of Kigali. The only change for 2020 is the addition of a short 4.5-km individual time trial on Stage 7, which will only continue to make this an exciting race.
“I have seen the stages and compared to last year, it is the last day that is different with the time trial,” said Lozano. “Knowing the stages can help to anticipate and plan a move, but other than that, the legs dictate how things will go in this kind of race.”
“After spending two weeks training and racing at altitude in Colombia that will help with the acclimatization and the speed in the legs and also to put the teamwork together going into Rwanda.”
Team Novo Nordisk Roster Tour du Rwanda (February 23 – March 1):
Oliver Behringer (SUI, 23)
Sam Brand (GBR, 28)
Joonas Henttala (FIN, 28)
David Lozano (ESP, 31)
Charles Planet (FR, 26)
Tour du Rwanda 2020 Stages:
23rd Feb: Stage 1 | Kigali – kigali, 114.4km
24th Feb: Stage 2 | Kigali – Huye, 120.5km
25th Feb: Stage 3 |Huye – Rusizi, 142km
25th Feb: Stage 4 | Rusizi – Rubavu, 206.3km
26th Feb: Stage 5 | Rubavu – Musanze, 84.7km
27th Feb: Stage 6 | Musanze – Muhanga, 127.3km
28th Feb: Stage 7 | Nyamirambo – Mur de Kigali, ITT, 4.5km
1st March: Stage 8 | Kigali – Kigali, 89.3km
Photo: Nils Laengner