Team Africa Rising is growing from strength to strength, despite its difficult environment. Yet still they have only one female rider, and social and cultural beliefs make it hard to grow the women’s side of the team. TWC’s contributor Emily Conrad-Pickles shares the story of an inspirational rider and her desire to be “free” on the bike…
When you think of Rwanda, the first thing that will probably come into your mind is Genocide. More recently, if you are a cyclist, you may also think of Team Rwanda, Rwanda’s progressive cycling squad who shot to fame at the London 2012 Olympics when they fielded their first cyclist, Adrien Niyonshuti, in the cross-country mountain bike event.
Set up in 2007 by former pro cyclist Jock Boyer (the first American to compete in the TDF), Team Rwanda has grown from strength to strength and is now a respectable force within the African cycling arena. But the goal of the team is greater than just country-focused. They have ambitions to help improve and unify cycling across Africa, which is reflected in their new name, Team Africa Rising.
Since its inception, Team Rwanda has grown from strength to strength and now boasts 17 cyclists and hopes to have three riders in this year’s Olympic Games in Rio. Since 2014, things have really started to shine for the team with a few notable milestones including Rwanda’s second appearance in the World Championships in September 2014, and winning the Tour of Rwanda in 2014 and 2015. With passion from inside this team and support from the international cycling federation (UCI), things are really on the up and Team Rwanda is setting a stunning example for their African compatriots. The team strongly believes that cycling in Africa will never improve unless they can bring the whole continent forward together.