By submitting its candidacy for the organization of the world road cycling championships in 2025, Rwanda had insisted: it wants “To go down in history” of this sport. It’s done. Its capital, Kigali, will become the first city in Africa to host the competition, the International Cycling Union (UCI) reported on Thursday (September 23rd).
More than an announcement, it is actually a confirmation. The French David Lappartient had made the holding of the Worlds on the African continent an electoral promise during his campaign for the presidency of the UCI in 2017. A situation, which he considered “Abnormal” : ” There was a lack. I wanted to fill it. “
Since the first edition in 1921, in Copenhagen (Denmark), the flagship event of the UCI has indeed had the opportunity to put down its suitcases far from its traditional European cradle. First across the Atlantic, in North America, of which Montreal (Canada) was the first host city in 1974. Three years later, direction South America and San Cristobal in Venezuela. Asia welcomed them for the first time in 1990 in Utsunomiya in Japan. Twenty years later, it was finally the turn of Oceania, in Geelong near Melbourne (Australia).
“We have real know-how here”
While Kigali was still competing against Tangier in Morocco for the 2025 Worlds, David Lappartient had made no secret of his preference. In addition to the topographical richness of the “land of a thousand hills”, which gives it the possibility of organizing events on flat or hilly terrain, the Rwandan dossier could rely on several assets. Foremost among which is its National Tour. “We have real know-how here”, greeted the latter on the sidelines of an on-site visit during the last edition of the race postponed from February to May due to the health crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Launched at the end of the 1980s as an amateur event, the Tour du Rwanda obtained a license from the UCI in 2009 and since 2019, it is even a 2.1 event in the calendar – only the Tropical Amissa Bongo (Gabon) share this privilege. Concretely, teams of the highest world level can participate: Israel Start-Up Nation, Total Direct Energie or even B & B Hotels p / b KTM, three formations present on the Tour de France, had riders there during the last editing. Enough to ensure Rwanda a good showcase, even if the race is not broadcast in Europe.
Above all, the country has experienced in recent years an incredible popular fervor around cycling, which has become a national sport. “So that gives us legitimacy to organize this kind of event [comme les championnats du monde], not only at the continental level but also at the global level ”, was advancing in an interview with The team, on May 15, Rwandan President Paul Kagamé.
A government priority
The latter, who has ruled the country with an iron fist since 2001, then explained how sport had been a tool of reconciliation in a nation scarred by the genocide of the Tutsis in 1994. “It was a way to forget our distress and our torments. “
A widespread means of transport and therefore already anchored in daily life, the development of competitive cycling became a priority for the government in the 2000s: “We had cyclists, but they had to learn to become competitors, detailed Paul Kagame. Everything also came from Rwandans who had gone into exile and who, on returning to the country, wanted to reproduce what they had seen elsewhere. “
In 2014, an Africa Raising training and training center, in Musanze, in the north of the country, was inaugurated at the instigation of the former rider Jonathan Boyer who now officiates as manager of the Rwanda team. Cycling and coach of the national team. This year, six Rwandan runners made the trip to Belgium for the world championships.
Like so many symbols of the globalization of cycling at work for several years now, Jonathan Boyer was the first American to take the start of the Tour de France in 1981. The next worlds will take place in Flanders (2021), in Wollongong in Australia (2022), Glasgow in Scotland (2023) and Zurich in Switzerland (2024).