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Puncher’s finish in Rwanda, Piccoli keeps GC-ambitions alive

Canadian GC-contender James Piccoli is, after stage 5, still in the mix for overall victory in the Tour du Rwanda.

The stage with the final climb to Kimironko Market, one of the busiest markets in Rwanda, has only been won by true punchers in the past editions of the race. It’s short, steep, and usually doesn’t result in big time gaps between GC-contenders.

ISN, chasing with the strong Omer Lahav and Guy Sagiv, closed down the gap with the break-away far before the final climb. James Piccoli, five seconds down on the yellow jersey, finished together with his competitors. The climb to Kimironko doesn’t particularly suit him as a rider, but the Canadian did finish seventh.

He barely lost time on his direct competitors. He is actually one second closer to the yellow jersey after today.

Friday’s stage is most likely going to be crucial for the GC, as well as Saturday’s short individual time trial. Sunday’s final stage resulted in time gaps over the last few editions of the Tour, so the race is definitely not decided yet.

#RacingForChange #YallaISN #TdRwanda2021
Photos: Sjors Beukeboom and Jean Chris Kitoko

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Lahav and Goldstein on the up, Piccoli strong again in stage 4 in Rwanda

If you rapidly grow a bike culture in a country that was not so cycling-minded a decade ago, talent rises up fast.

Edo Goldstein and Omer Lahav are two examples of riders who have developed rapidly over the last few years and are now showing their skills in the Tour du Rwanda.

Sports director Lionel Marie was impressed by the two Israeli youngsters in the first three stages in Rwanda and again complimented them after stage 4. “They just never give up and they are fully committed.”

Compliments for conti-team staff

“Omer and I were here last year, and if I compare the Omer from 2020 with the Omer in 2021, I see a huge development,” Marie said.

He continued: “Edo Goldstein shows great potential here in Rwanda too. He learns quickly and is an important force in the team for our ambitions for the general classification.”

The way the two continental boys ride here shows how important it is for a WorldTour-team to have a continental team, according to Marie.

“Our continental-riders are developing rapidly. Big compliments to our continental-team-staff for their work.”

No threats for Piccoli in stage 4

Stage 4 in the Tour du Rwanda was relatively short at only 120 kilometers. Positioning for the short, final climb was a big objective, and the two Israelis brought team leader James Piccoli exactly where he had to be.

Piccoli himself finished solidly in the bunch, finishing twelfth. The breakaway made it all the way to the finish line; however, no one in the front group was a real threat for the GC.

 

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com

Piccoli punches to podium in Rwanda, moves up in GC

James Piccoli finished strong after a long, wet and exhausting stage in the Tour du Rwanda and leaves all options open for the GC.

Stage three in the Tour du Rwanda was all about the elevation. In the queen’s stage, almost 4,000 meters of climbing elevation had to be covered over 170 kilometers.

An early alarm at 4:55 am, a two-hour transfer to the start, and pouring rain in the first kilometers of racing resulted in a not so exciting start of the queen’s stage. Luckily, the weather improved and halfway into the race there were only low-hanging clouds in the Rwandan valleys, ensuring incredible views over the ‘country of a thousand hills.’

However, on the final climb it was pouring down as it only can in Africa. Streams, some sort of small rivers of water, were flowing down the final climb. Piccoli, Israel Start-Up Nation’s nominee for the general classification in Africa, did not mind.

According to the Canadian, the final climb was not steep enough to really make a difference. He therefore waited for the final stretch, and: third in the sprint.

He named that result a true team effort. “The help of Edo Goldstein and Omer Lahav during the race and towards to final climb was fantastic. Throughout the day, Stormi-Norman (Vahtra) helped us in the wet descents. Guy Sagiv went so fast upon the most challenging hill of the day that I had to tell him to slow down.”

“The team’s confidence has grown after today,” Piccoli concluded. “We are looking forward to the next stages.”

Photos: Jean Chris Kitoko & Sjors Beukeboom.

— Sjors Beukeboom to israelcyclingacademy.com