By Isack Sekatawa
Charles Kagimu will be the sole Ugandan competing at the annual Tour du Rwanda cycling championship in Kigali at the weekend, but even then, the captain’s participation in the event has nothing in relation to his country of birth, for he will be hoisting the flag for a Germany club.
Kagimu will be riding for a Germany team Bike Aid Cycling Club under the UCI Pro’s category – as Uganda’s only close attachment to the rider’s participation in this event that attracts the sport’s best from all corners of the world, remains his birth certificate.
The Rwanda event is scheduled for May 2 – 9, covering eight stages, with riders embarking on the 115.6kms from Kigali to Rwamagana in the inaugural leg on Sunday.
Shortly after the Kigali event, Kagimu is expected to depart for Germany for a further specialized training.
In Germany, Kagimu will undergo, a year-long skill-acquisition process aimed at making a better rider, gaining confidence through interacting with some of the best riders in the sport, across the European continent, according to Denis Ssembatya Jr – the Uganda Cycling association spokesman.
The Kigali event, the 13th edition and category 2.1 of the International Cycling Union – UCU- is expected to attract 15 teams in total – classified as three at national level; eight continental; three UCI professionals; and one UCI world side.
Uganda has missed out on this continental showpiece since 2018 due to different challenges – though lack of funds takes the lion’s share. UCA officials, and particularly Ssembatya Jr’s are confident that team Uganda will resurface at this event in 2022.
“We have every reason to conclude that Uganda will be present at the 2022 Tour du Rwanda event.
“Our biggest challenge has been lack of fund but our team is available and ready. We recently posted good results and improved on our rankings during this year’s Africa continental championship in Egypt. So Uganda as a team as well as individuals will keep participating in more African races or team events ahead of the 14th edition (of Tour du Rwanda,)” said Ssembatya Jr.
Until 2008, Tour du Rwanda was a regional race that brought together Rwandans as well as riders from neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda. The event has since expanded to attract African as well as riders from other parts of the world to showcase their talent.