Destinations Africa

The cycling race that nobody knows about: Tour du Rwanda boosts sports tourism in Africa

Nov 20, 2012 12:15 am

Skift Take

One major sports event can turn an entire country into a destination for athletes looking to train in testing conditions.

— Samantha Shankman

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Rwanda’s annual cycling tour is underway at the national Amahoro Stadium with the first of the 8 stages this year taking riders across the capital of Kigali.

15 teams from 8 African countries and beyond are competing for the honors, a tough test though, as the route takes the riders across many of the proverbial thousand hills Rwanda is comprised of.

This year it is Algeria, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Morocco, and South Africa who join hosts Rwanda in the race while other teams come from Belgium, Canada, France, and the USA, all given in alphabetical order to avoid raised eyebrows.

The President of the African Cycling Confederation is in Kigali to officiate at the opening of the race, which expects the streets of Kigali and later on the roads across the country lined with fans to cheer on the individuals and teams from the start to the finishing line on November 25 back in Kigali. The stages are between 44.1 and 156.5 kilometers long and all lead across challenging terrain with lots of climbs and as many downhill sections.

Tourism is one of Rwanda’s key economic activities, and sports tourism, as seen with the annual Tour du Rwanda, has become a growing niche, as even international cyclists often come to Rwanda to train at high altitude while finding the routes suitable to build stamina and strength. All the best to the cyclists and teams as the race across The Land of a Thousand Hills.

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