Israel – Premier Tech is back in Rwanda. The Israeli team, always well-received in the African country, is starting in the Tour du Rwanda and has come to train with the Bugesera Cycling Team under the #RacingForChange banner.
It is the seventh time Israel – Premier Tech is participating in the Tour du Rwanda. Back in 2016, when they still raced as ‘Cycling Academy Team’, Omer Goldstein was the team’s top-finisher. This year, IPT returns with an Israeli delegation which includes but is not limited to Goldstein.
‘It has been a life-changing trip already’
The Israeli ITT champion says he is pleased to be back in Rwanda. “I have good memories from my first participation, 2016. Rwandan racing is different than European racing. In general, the stages are shorter, and the peloton is smaller. That makes a difference and suits adventurous riders. Rwanda is very mountainous, which suits me as a rider.”
For 18-year-old American Cole Kessler, it is going to be his first race for Israel – Premier Tech, but also his second visit to Rwanda. “It will not all be about racing”, he says. “The Racing for Change mission from the team is a project supported by everyone, and it has already been such a life-changing trip so far after meeting the women we are supporting.”
Kessler also mentions how inspirational the ideas from the team are to further develop the #RacingForChange project. “I understood that the team has even bigger ambitions with the Bugesera District, particularly to develop the cycling racing scene in Rwanda. That just sounds super exciting, and I cannot wait to see how that develops.”
Alastair MacKellar and Israeli riders Nadav Raisberg and Edo Goldstein complete Israel – Premier Tech’s roster. For the first two, it is the first time coming to Rwanda, meeting the women from the Bugesera Cycling Team and racing the Tour.
The dark horse
MacKellar, who can be described as IPT’s dark horse for the Tour du Rwanda, is curious how racing in Rwanda is. “I heard it is very aggressive racing, with a lot of attacks, all day long. It will be hard, as it is at altitude, and the locals are obviously more used to that than us. I am sure these eight days of racing are going be a serious test for everyone in the team.”
The Tour begins on the 20th of February and finishes seven stages later. The Tour du Rwanda opens with a flat time trial, and the riders can expect that to be the only flat parcours they’ll see. Sports Director Rene Andrle realizes it is going to be a tough race in the ‘land of a thousand hills’. “The team has quite some experience now with racing in Rwanda. We know that the fatigue can build up quickly in this race, due to the course and the small peloton and the fact that we are racing at altitude.”
He continues: “We are here for stage wins. With McKellar and Kessler, we have riders to achieve our goals. Also, Raisberg and Edo Goldstein are allowed to hunt for personal results in breakaways. However, Omer Goldstein will be our team leader, and if he is in a position to get a good result, whether that is in a stage or in the general classification, he will be the team’s priority.”