At TWC we had the great pleasure of featuring Rwanda's only female pro cyclist in February and we were so excited to hear the news today that Matrix Fitness Race Team are stepping in to support her this year.
The team, which turned UCI pro last year but will be attacking european races in 2016, will link up with Jeanne d'Arc Girubuntu's of Team Rwanda Cycling to help provide opportunities for her to race in Europe.
Jeanne d’Arc's story has captured the minds of the Matrix Fitness team and its partners and they tell us they are determined to help her in her dream to race professionally in Europe in the coming seasons.
Jeanne d’Arc became the first black African women to ride at the UCI Road World Championships when she raced in the USA in September 2015 where she finished 87 in the Road Race and 44 in the TT. Her talents also were on show at the recent African Continental Championships in Morocco where she took Silver in the ITT, just 1 second off Gold; she was the only black African woman on the podium.
Team manager Stefan Wyman told us: “We would like to create an opportunity for Jeanne d’Arc to race in Europe, and we are discussing options at the moment. Whether it is with us, or via our network of contacts, we’d like to see what’s possible to see if we can help provide another carefully planned step on the ladder for Jeanne d’Arc."
“Clearly, Jeanne d’Arc is hugely talented, and it looks like there are some fantastic people around her making sure the right pathway is put in place. Her time at the UCI training centre has obviously had great impact on her, and at some point in the coming two season, exposure to racing in Europe is going to be really important."
"We are sure Jeanne d’Arc can inspire and encourage future riders in Rwanda, and hopefully we can do a tiny bit to help support her along with way." - Stefan Wyman
“Team Rwanda are doing great things, and plan to have more women’s racing in Rwanda in the future. We are sure Jeanne d’Arc can inspire and encourage future riders in Rwanda, and hopefully we can do a tiny bit to help support her along with way. It was recently mentioned in an ESPN article that Jeanne d’Arc earns $1,200 a year and supports a large extended family with this income, we certainly hope we can add a little to this and make life for her and her family a little more comfortable."
Team Rwanda was established by ex-Tour pro Jock Boyer and now has several full-time ex-pro coaching staff develop our athletes, motivated by their love of cycling and desire to help our athletes succeed. Team Rwanda is also managed by an incredible lady, Kimberly Coats who is passionate about growing the women’s side of the team.
Discussing the support, Coats said: “Team Rwanda Cycling is very grateful to Matrix Fitness for wanting to support Jeanne d’Arc and her career. We at Team Rwanda understand the value of our partnerships in launching these young men and women onto the international cycling stage. We do not do it alone. Matrix Fitness’s goal to match and exceed Jeanne d’Arc’s salary will relieve stress for both the athlete and her national team and more importantly it shows the worldwide commitment to the growth of women’s cycling especially in developing nations such as Rwanda. We hope this is just the start of a fruitful and long partnership with Matrix Fitness. We also hope to find many more Jeanne d’Arc’s on the roads of Rwanda!"
The partnership will be formally launched at the team launch on 1 April at CycleFit Manchester. There will be various items for sale to help raise funds for Jeanne d’Arc, some of which will be launched before the event.