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London Olympics 2012

Adrien Niyonshuti

Adrien NiyonshutiAdrien NiyonshutiAdrien NiyonshutiAdrien NiyonshutiAdrien Niyonshuti

Adrien Niyonshuti, born 2 January 1987 in Eastern Province, Rwanda is a professional bicycle racer for South African UCI Continental team MTN Qhubeka. Although he survived, six of Niyonshuti's brothers were killed in the Rwandan Genocide of 1994. You can read more about Niyonshuti's early journey in a great Sports Illustrated profile from April 2011 by clicking here. Niyonshuti began riding a bicycle given to him by his uncle as a teenager, when he came to the attention of former professional cyclist Jonathan Boyer in 2006 during the first Wooden Bike Classic. After riding for the Rwanda national cycling team, Niyonshuti secured a professional contract with Team MTN Energade, beginning in the 2009 professional season.

Niyonshuti began amateur cycling at the age of 16 in his native Rwanda. In 2006, he came to the attention of a former professional cyclist, Jonathan Boyer. The first American cyclist to compete in the Tour de France, Boyer was working in Rwanda on a project to import cargo bicycles for coffee farmers. Boyer also assumed the role of coach for the Rwandan national cycling team, and recruited Niyonshuti to race. Niyonshuti had good initial results in local races such as the Tour of Rwanda, in which he finished in the top ten five years in a row and won in 2006 and 2008. In 2008, Niyonshuti attended the Africa Continental Centre Training Camp in South Africa, where he was offered a contract by Douglas Ryder, the directeur sportif of UCI Continental Team MTN Energade. He started his first UCI European road race in August, 2009 with his participation in the 2009 Tour of Ireland, becoming the first Rwandan cyclist to ride in the European professional peloton. Niyonshuti qualified to represent Rwanda in the cross-country mountain bike race during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

The physical measurements of Rwandan cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti suggest a world class athlete: 139 pounds, a VO2 max of around 75ml/kg/min (Lance Armstrong scores an 84), a haematocrit in the 46-49 percent range, 5.5 percent body fat, and the ability to sustain a power output of more than five watts/kg for several hours. Those attributes will have nothing to do with your desire to cheer for him during the cross-country mountain bike race in London.

The cyclist, who qualified for the Olympic mountain bike competition after a fourth place finish in the Mountain Bike Continental Championships in Stellenbosch, South Africa, last February, survived the Rwandan genocide in which six of his brothers died. The Team Rwandan rider has also endured the deaths of numerous friends, including an orphan he befriended at a refugee camp who fell under a car as they rode bikes as adults together. Niyonshuti was helped along the way by bike builder Tom Ritchey and cyclist Jock Boyer, who worked to develop a national cycling team in Rwanda. Niyonshuti rose to fame when he won the inaugural Wooden Bike Classic, and after several top 10 finishes in the Tour of Rwanda.

Adrien found himself on the mother of all learning curves. In George, he laid eyes on the sea for the first time. In Cape Town, he visited the aquarium and marvelled that all those creatures actually lived in that sea. In California, he saw his first train, and his first quite-a-lot-of-other-things too. He revelled in hotel-room luxury: hot water on tap and beds so opulent that he sometimes preferred to sleep on the floor rather than disturb the extravagance. And he got stronger. Much stronger. In 2008, he finished the Cape Epic in 26th position and then returned home to win the Tour of Rwanda. With his rider in that kind of form, Jock put Adrien straight back on the plane to South Africa, to the UCI centre in Potch to be precise, and placed a call to Ryder informing him that he had unearthed a gem.

The rest of 2008 was a blur. When Ryder offered Adrien a contract—Team Rwanda’s first professional contract!—Jock would have broken out the champagne ... except he’d only ever had two beers in his life. Adrien’s trademark grin stretched from ear to ear. Now he would have a salary to send back to his parents so that they could install electricity and running water, and lay a cement floor in their modest homestead. Perhaps even better, he’d be in a position to pass on training tips and old racing kit to Godfrey, the genocide orphan he loved like a brother and who was the rising star of Team Rwanda back home. All the pieces of the jigsaw were falling into place.


source: www.wikipedia.org


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