In just over a week’s time, the Cycling Team will be returning to Africa to compete for the second consecutive year in the Tour du Rwanda, an eight-day bike race. Here’s a preview from one of our returning riders, Cameron McPhaden.

Cameron McPhaden and Jules Cusson-Fradet from LowestRates Cycling Team are already in Kigali waiting their Co.

It’s a huge honour to be invited back to race in the Tour du Rwanda, as this race is gaining in popularity and prestige on the world’s stage. The 2018 Tour du Rwanda will be the final Tour as a UCI 2.2 classification before being moved up a tier to a UCI 2.1 event in 2019, meaning that the race has drawn the attention of a few WorldTour teams who wish to participate. Obviously, it’s massive for an amateur club like ours to be recognized and invited to two consecutive editions of a race this big. I’m really stoked for this race and all the excitement it brings! As the last formal event for team LowestRates on the 2017 calendar, my teammates and I have been doing some serious preparatory work to be able to light some fireworks before hanging up our racing wheels for the season.

Here’s a quick overview of this year’s team:

  • Brett Wachtendorf: Climbing specialist, team co-leader, vying for a stage win and a final GC podium, looks like Chris Froome, rides like Chris Froome.
  • Edward Greene: High-octane climber and watt-bomb specialist, team co-leader, has a fantastic accent, speaks South African slang in his sleep.
  • Stephen Keeping: The best in the business at moving a teammate up in the field, will put you into the gutter if you get in his way, has a mean left hook, one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet off the bike.
  • Jules Cusson-Fradet: Crit racer extraordinaire, a fast man on the flats, devoted teammate, notre seul vrai Québecois, has the most hilarious swear words.
  • Cameron McPhaden: Master of the groupetto, gets dropped a lot, has a taste for expensive beer, probably only likes you for your dog.

Our motivation for this year is to live up to the reputation we established during last year’s race, taking the win in two of the eight stages in Rwanda. It won’t be easy, but it can certainly be done, especially with the work that Brett and Ed have been putting in in the mountains. The three of us domestiques will be fetching bottles, keeping our leaders safe in the pack, and dealing with any riffraff that tries to disturb the day’s plan.

Not only are my teammates relying on me for support in the Tour du Rwanda, but I have many avid followers back home in Canada who are eager to hear of my adventures through social media. Many of these followers are fellow racers, racers in past-lives, or just friends who enjoy living vicariously through me as I detail each day of racing: the highs, the lows, the etiquette of racing, the mental and physical struggle, the elation of winning, and the crushing hopelessness of defeat. It’s my duty to give back to those who have done so much for me over these past months as I prepare for yet another one of the biggest challenges of my life. The amount of suffering and pain delivered to me during training sessions with friends will be repaid in full through endless banter about the trials and tribulations of racing, with the occasional rant about the lack of descending skills seen in the peloton. Are you not entertained?

The stage profiles for the 2017 Tour of Rwanda were recently released, and I have taken the liberty of quickly compiling them below.

  • Prologue: 3.3 km
  • Stage 1: 120 km + 4 categorized climbs
  • Stage 2: 180 km + 6 categorized climbs
  • Stage 3: 95 km + 1 massive categorized climb
  • Stage 4: 121 km + 4 categorized climbs
  • Stage 5: 93 km + 3 categorized climbs
  • Stage 6: 86 km + 4 categorized climbs (including the infamous “Mur de Kigali”!)
  • Stage 7: 120 km + 10 categorized climbs (one per lap of the circuit)

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