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Natnael Berhane takes stage and overall lead

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The peloton during stage 7 of the Tour of Rwanda.

The peloton during stage 7 of the Tour of Rwanda. (Image credit: Cynthia Lou)
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Stage 7 brought the peloton back to Butare.

Stage 7 brought the peloton back to Butare. (Image credit: Cynthia Lou)

The Eritrean national team is still leading the Tour of Rwanda overall with two stages to go albeit with a different rider, Teweldemedhin Natnael Berhane. He removed his colleague Tesfai Teklit of the race leadership on Tuesday and offered further evidence of the nation’s growing hegemony in African cycling.

The new yellow jersey also won the stage between Kibuye and the former Rwandan capital of Butare. Natnael crossed the line just millimetres ahead of his team-mate Daniel Teklehaimanot, stage 1 winner Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa) and Adil Jelloul (Morocco). Indeed, the sprint was so close than the commissaires had to consult the photofinish to confirm the winner.

At 155.8 kilometres, stage 7 was the last hilly day of the race and probably the last opportunity for the leaders to try their luck. Right after the flag was dropped, seven riders went off the front: Sollomon Bittew Shiferaw, Tsgabu Gebremaryam (UCI Continental Centre), Frekalsi Debesai (Eritrea), Tarik Chaoufi (Morroco), Gabriel Combrinck (South Africa), Evert Verbist (Avia Flanders) and Samuel Mwangi (Kenya).

27km later a second group joined the breakaway with all the race stars: national champion Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda), African Continental Champion Daniel Teklehaimanot and Teweldemedhin Natnael Berhane (Eritrea), Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa), Adil Jelloul (Morocco) and Estifanos Gebresilassie (UCI Continental Centre).

Niyonshuti, who was leading the race two days previously, suffered misfortune at the 34km mark, when he punctured on a descent and lost around 45 seconds. As a result of that mishap, he dropped from 2nd to 7th in the general classification. An the head of the race, the escapees worked together until the last 40km, when the Moroccans Jelloul and Chaoufi launched vicious attacks. Teklehaimanot marshaled their efforts and stayed in his domestique role until the finish, expertly supporting Natnael.

The Eritrean squad explained they were pleased to put Natnael into the yellow jersey as he is the youngest member of the roster, aged just nineteen. "I had no problem with riding for him," Teklehaimanot said.

Natnael, who found "the race very hard," was until now considered more of a sprinter. At the Tour of Eritrea in May, he took five stages as well as the yellow, green and U23 jerseys. He looks set to ride in Europe next season as part of the UCI Centre based in Aigle, Switzerland. He would be the second Eritrean to experience this "World cycling academy" after Teklehaimanot.

In the general classification, Natnael holds a 45-second lead over Teklehaimanot and has 58 seconds to spare over Janse Van Rensburg.

Stage 8, more or less flat, will conclude with the same finish as stage 5, near the regional stadium, a perfect place for puncheurs to take a few seconds. The Eritreans seem unbeatable, as they have done since the begining of the race, but some rival teams think their domination is also something of an Achilles heel.

Mohammed Bilal, coach of the Morrocan squad, is among those looking to take advantage: "Eritrea will have a difficult race as they currently have got almost all the jerseys. Everybody will fight to take one. We can't say they have already won. We tried today and we'll insist tomorrow again. Jelloul gained two places overall. He's now fourth at 1:24 but he still can jump onto the podium."



#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Teweldemedhin Natnael Berhane (Eri) Eritrea4:16:06
2Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Eritrea
3Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) South Africa
4Adil Jelloul (Mar) Morocco
5Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Eth) UCI Continental Center
6Estifanos Gebresilassie (Eth) UCI Continental Center
7Tarik Chaoufi (Mar) Morocco0:00:55
8Gabriel Combrinck (RSA) South Africa0:01:39
9Tesfai Teklit (Eri) Eritrea0:03:45
10Meron Russom (Eri) Eritrea
11Frekalsi Debesai (Eri) Eritrea
12Jasson Bakke (RSA) South Africa
13Issiaka Fofana (CIv) Ivory Coast
14Sollomon Bittew Shiferaw (Eth) UCI Continental Center0:03:48
15Abdelati Saadoune (Mar) Morocco0:03:52
16Julien Schick (Fra) C.A. Castelsarrasin
17Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) Rwanda
18Fathi Ahmed Atunsi (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
19Araya Medhin Dawit Haile (Eri) Eritrea
20Nathan Byukusenge (Rwa) Rwanda0:04:09
21Gasore Hategeka (Rwa) Rwanda0:10:37
22Guy Smet (Bel) Flanders Avia Team
23Mouhssine Lahsaini (Mar) Morocco
24Paul Agorir (Ken) Kenya0:10:57
25Samuel Mwangi (Ken) Kenya0:11:00
26Joeri Calleeuw (Bel) Flanders Avia Team0:11:10
27David Matovu (Uga) Mixt Team Grands Lacs0:11:26
28Emmanuel Rudahunga (Rwa) Rwanda0:14:37
29Samuel Ekiru (Ken) Kenya
30Peter Loriko (Ken) Kenya
31Innocent Sibomana (Rwa) Rwanda
32Med Said El Ammoury (Mar) Morocco
33Jean De Dieu Uwimana (Rwa) Rwanda
34Philip Van Baele (Bel) Flanders Avia Team
35Ahmed Mohamed Abdalla (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
36Adnane Aarbia (Mar) Morocco
37Bram Delie (Bel) Flanders Avia Team
38Evert Verbist (Bel) Flanders Avia Team
39Obed Ruvogera (Rwa) Rwanda
40Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) South Africa
41Amr Mahmoud Ahmed Mohamed (Egy) Egypt
42Javier Megias-Leal (Spa) Team Type 1
43Guillaume Soula (Fra) C.A. Castelsarrasin0:16:28
44Benjamin Trouche (Fra) C.A. Castelsarrasin
45Youssef Belgasem Ahmed (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya0:23:50
46Eddin Asran Osamahussam (Egy) Egypt
47Nyandwi Uwase (Rwa) Rwanda0:27:07
48Obert Chembe (Zam) UCI Continental Center
49Kipchumba Benjamin Kogo (Ken) Kenya0:33:43
50Ali Al-Sayed Ali Abdullah (Egy) Egypt
51Eric Sinamenye (Rwa) Rwanda0:39:49
52Innocent Uwamungu (Rwa) Rwanda0:43:23
53Sah Noel Tanessop (Cmr) Cameroon0:50:59
54Issa Ntibitura (Rwa) Rwanda
55Raoul Herve Mbah (Cmr) Cameroon
56Mahmoud Mohamed Alaa Eddin (Egy) Egypt
57Mohamed Ali Almabruk (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
58Stradford James Helms (USA) Team Type 1
59Alex Bowden (USA) Team Type 1
60Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1
61Simeon Green (GBr) C.A. Castelsarrasin
62Amin Abdelrazag Alkilani (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
63Faysal Alsharaa (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
64Chris Germain (Sey) Seychelles
65Robert Tawedi Modi (Cmr) Cameroon
DNFIssiaka Cisse (CIv) Ivory Coast

General classification after stage 7:
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Teweldemedhin Natnael Berhane (Eri) Eritrea22:40:14
2Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Eritrea0:00:45
3Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) South Africa0:00:58
4Adil Jelloul (Mar) Morocco0:01:24
5Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Eth) UCI Continental Center0:01:45
6Tesfai Teklit (Eri) Eritrea0:02:40
7Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) Rwanda0:03:32
8Estifanos Gebresilassie (Eth) UCI Continental Center0:04:44
9Meron Russom (Eri) Eritrea0:05:12
10Frekalsi Debesai (Eri) Eritrea0:06:38
11Abdelati Saadoune (Mar) Morocco0:12:11
12Julien Schick (Fra) C.A. Castelsarrasin0:12:58
13Nathan Byukusenge (Rwa) Rwanda0:19:44
14Sollomon Bittew Shiferaw (Eth) UCI Continental Center0:21:15
15Jasson Bakke (RSA) South Africa0:22:28
16Araya Medhin Dawit Haile (Eri) Eritrea0:25:07
17Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) South Africa0:26:32
18Paul Agorir (Ken) Kenya0:31:52
19Gabriel Combrinck (RSA) South Africa0:32:41
20Issiaka Fofana (CIv) Ivory Coast0:37:12
21Fathi Ahmed Atunsi (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya0:44:53
22Gasore Hategeka (Rwa) Rwanda0:47:56
23Tarik Chaoufi (Mar) Morocco0:48:09
24Emmanuel Rudahunga (Rwa) Rwanda0:55:54
25Mouhssine Lahsaini (Mar) Morocco0:59:24
26Obed Ruvogera (Rwa) Rwanda1:05:08
27Nyandwi Uwase (Rwa) Rwanda1:06:40
28Amr Mahmoud Ahmed Mohamed (Egy) Egypt1:06:59
29Jean De Dieu Uwimana (Rwa) Rwanda1:09:34
30Javier Megias-Leal (Spa) Team Type 11:12:18
31Samuel Mwangi (Ken) Kenya1:13:12
32Med Said El Ammoury (Mar) Morocco1:13:54
33Evert Verbist (Bel) Flanders Avia Team1:14:42
34Bram Delie (Bel) Flanders Avia Team1:15:07
35Adnane Aarbia (Mar) Morocco1:17:20
36Peter Loriko (Ken) Kenya1:23:53
37David Matovu (Uga) Mixt Team Grands Lacs1:24:32
38Eddin Asran Osamahussam (Egy) Egypt1:25:49
39Philip Van Baele (Bel) Flanders Avia Team1:26:34
40Benjamin Trouche (Fra) C.A. Castelsarrasin1:28:14
41Guillaume Soula (Fra) C.A. Castelsarrasin1:28:41
42Joeri Calleeuw (Bel) Flanders Avia Team1:29:44
43Guy Smet (Bel) Flanders Avia Team1:34:38
44Kipchumba Benjamin Kogo (Ken) Kenya1:40:00
45Samuel Ekiru (Ken) Kenya1:41:57
46Obert Chembe (Zam) UCI Continental Center1:45:48
47Innocent Sibomana (Rwa) Rwanda1:50:49
48Ahmed Mohamed Abdalla (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya1:52:20
49Youssef Belgasem Ahmed (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya1:53:13
50Mohamed Ali Almabruk (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya2:12:42
51Chris Germain (Sey) Seychelles2:20:44
52Ali Al-Sayed Ali Abdullah (Egy) Egypt2:21:44
53Innocent Uwamungu (Rwa) Rwanda2:23:05
54Raoul Herve Mbah (Cmr) Cameroon2:39:37
55Faysal Alsharaa (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya2:52:34
56Mahmoud Mohamed Alaa Eddin (Egy) Egypt2:58:20
57Sah Noel Tanessop (Cmr) Cameroon2:58:31
58Issa Ntibitura (Rwa) Rwanda2:59:24
59Robert Tawedi Modi (Cmr) Cameroon3:00:24
60Simeon Green (GBr) C.A. Castelsarrasin3:05:22
61Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 13:18:58
62Amin Abdelrazag Alkilani (Lba) Libyan Arab Jamahiriya3:20:29
63Eric Sinamenye (Rwa) Rwanda3:20:52
64Alex Bowden (USA) Team Type 13:24:31
65Stradford James Helms (USA) Team Type 13:37:40


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