The Colorado Classic today announced the addition of Team Rwanda to the start list for the UCI 2.HC race that takes place August 10-13. The addition of Team Rwanda brings the number of teams in the race to 15.
"Part of our vision for the Colorado Classic and the accompanying Velorama Festival is to highlight 'the power of the bike' to bring people together, improve health and build stronger communities," said David Koff, CEO of RPM Events Group, the organization formed to put on the race. "Team Rwanda Cycling is an amazing example of how bikes can help transcend differences and transform lives. We are extremely pleased to host them in the return of pro cycling to the state."
Team Rwanda, founded in 2007, has exponentially grown the sport of cycling in Rwanda, a country torn apart in the 1994 Genocide and never a cycling force on the continent.
"We have assembled a team of professional cyclists who now race competitively on the international stage and, in so doing, have become strong ambassadors for Rwanda,” said Team Rwanda founder Jock Boyer, who, in 1981, became the first American to compete in the Tour de France. “They give others, both nations and people in conflict, hope.”
With assistance from the Rwandan government and the Rwandan Cycling Federation, Boyer and Kimberly Coats have grown the team to the point where it now fields more than 35 cyclists — men and women — in all levels and disciplines. Team rider Adrien Niyonshuti qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games in mountain biking, and, most recently, Joseph Areruya, who came up through the program, won a stage at the 2017 U23 Giro d'Italia, marking the first stage win by a Rwandan at a UCI race.
"I feel that the Colorado Classic is more than just significant, it demonstrates a new chapter for Team Rwanda," Boyer said. "Ten years ago we came to America to race our first races and we were 'neophytes.' Now, we are coming as legitimate competitors who have earned their place in the professional peloton. We have come a long way and I am excited to return with a 'new' Team Rwanda. The support from RPM Events to new sponsor Thorne Research has provided a huge lift to our program. We're grateful for the opportunity that lies ahead."
Team Rwanda plans to compete in at least one US race as a tune-up to the Colorado Classic and will begin its training in Colorado on August 1.