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Tour of Rwanda draws in the crowds - Gallery

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Rwandan national champion Bonaventure Uwizeyimana and Junrey Navarro

Rwandan national champion Bonaventure Uwizeyimana and Junrey Navarro
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Valens Ndayisenga signs on

Valens Ndayisenga signs on
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Dimension Data's Junrey Navarra

Dimension Data's Junrey Navarra
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Riders wait for the start of stage 3 under the watchful gaze of the fans

Riders wait for the start of stage 3 under the watchful gaze of the fans
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Stage 3 winner Timothy Rugg (right) with race leader Valens Ndayisenga (centre) and Samuel Mugisha (left)

Stage 3 winner Timothy Rugg (right) with race leader Valens Ndayisenga (centre) and Samuel Mugisha (left)
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Valens Ndayisenga has many trips to the podium

Valens Ndayisenga has many trips to the podium
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Valens Ndayisenga in the jersey for best African

Valens Ndayisenga in the jersey for best African
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Metkel Eyob talks to one of the riders racing for the Eritrean national team

Metkel Eyob talks to one of the riders racing for the Eritrean national team
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Metkel Eyob drops back to pick up some refreshments from the team car

Metkel Eyob drops back to pick up some refreshments from the team car
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Fans run alongside the race convoy

Fans run alongside the race convoy
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Valens Ndayisenga in the yellow jersey after stage 2

Valens Ndayisenga in the yellow jersey after stage 2
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Valens Ndayisenga talks to the press

Valens Ndayisenga talks to the press
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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A little bit of long-legged entertainment at the finish of stage 2

A little bit of long-legged entertainment at the finish of stage 2
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Race leader Valens Ndayisenga

Race leader Valens Ndayisenga
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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The Dimension Data for Qhubeka bikes lined up and ready to go

The Dimension Data for Qhubeka bikes lined up and ready to go
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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One fan brings is particularly happy to see the race go by

One fan brings is particularly happy to see the race go by
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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A smile from Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier

A smile from Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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The Dimension Data continental team

The Dimension Data continental team
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)
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Race leader Valens Ndayisenga gives the Qhubeka high five

Race leader Valens Ndayisenga gives the Qhubeka high five
(Image credit: Dimension Data/Chris Allison/Cyclista)

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. 

Insane crowds in #Nyabugogo #loveourfans #cyclingisourpassion pic.twitter.com/2fwJmKgot8