Tour of Rwanda draws in the crowds - Gallery

A look at the opening three stages of the 2016 race

While the cycling season in the northern hemisphere has switched focus from road to track and cyclo-cross, below the equator the local road fans are enjoying the Tour of Rwanda, packing the roadside to cheer on the riders.

The eight day race, which began in 1988 and has been an annual feature in the calendar since 2001, begun on Sunday and has produced some inspired riding so far.

Rwandan Valens Ndayisenga (Dimension Data For Qhubeka) remains in control of the race following stage 4, after moving into the race lead on day 3 when he soloed to victory in Karongi. The home nation has also had success with former race leader Joseph Areruya (Les Amis Sportif) winning stage 4 to close back in on Ndayisenga's lead. Canadian Guillaume Boivin (Cycling Academy) and American Timonthy Rugg (Team Lowestrates.ca) have also taken stage wins.

Some more recent additions to the cycling calendar have been notable for their lack of fans on the side of the road but that cannot be said for the Rwandan race, which regularly attracts huge crowds to each stage. The race has attracted the attention of some of the WorldTour professionals with Cannondale-Drapac's Toms Skujins saying that he has added it to his 'bucket list' of races.

Dimension Data's development team are racing the Tour of Rwanda and they've sent a photographer along to capture the race, showing some of the huge support that the race gets. The video below shows some more of the incredible crowds on stage 2 from Kigali Convention Centre to Karongi.

Flick through the gallery above to take a look at the opening stages of the Tour of Rwanda 2016. 

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