The 30-year-old is riding with the Club Benediction squad this year with previous starts via different national and Rwandan teams. During his eight starts at the race, the closest Hategeka has come to victory was in 2011 when he placed second in Gisenyi on a day won by Joey Rosskopf when the now BMC rider was with Team Type 1.
A two-time national champion, Hategeka has enjoyed more success at the Tour du Cameroun than his national tour, taking two career stage wins at the 2.2 race.
In July and August, Hategeka raced with the Rwandan national team at the 2.2 Cascade Cycling Classic and 2.HC Colorado Classic. Hategeka’s first experience with hors category racing was life-changing, and he starts the Tour of Rwanda with confidence after his first block of American racing.
“I feel good. My plan is to win a stage. I have been training well and my team is very strong here,” Hategeka told Cyclingnews on the morning of stage 1.
Hategeka, who carries the nickname Akanyamasyo (Turtle), is the senior rider on Club Benediction with 24-year-olds Eric Nduwayo and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, and 20-year-olds Jean Ruberwa and Alex Nizeyimana completing the squad. Of his teammates, Uwizeyimana is arguably the most experienced with a national title in 2016, a stage win of the La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in 2014 on his palmarès and six previous Tour of Rwanda starts.
Although none of the Club Benediction riders are making their debuts at the race in 2017, Hategeka has taken on a leadership role and is passing on his vast experience to his teammates during the seven-day event.
“I started in 2009 and I have been racing the Tour of Rwanda for nine years so I have a lot of experience with this tour and I know a lot of things about this tour,” he said. “I have much experience to teach the young riders. It is good for the country.”
Having now broken the Tour of Rwanda race start record, the 2014 Commonwealth Games rider won’t be resting on his laurels nor missing the race, which moves to August next year. And with no end in sight for his Tour of Rwanda record nor his overseas racing ambitions, “I keep going,” says Hategeka.