Already from the third stage onwards, the team from Saarland was one rider down. With severe stomach problems, Dutchman Wesley Mol had to end the race early. However, the team did not seem to be affected by this. Day after day, Francois Juneau and Oliver Mattheis sacrificed themselves for Eric Muhoza and Dawit Yemane. The Rwandan newcomer as well as the Eritrean Dawit made up seconds in the overall standings every day. On the demanding climbs of the 8-day tour, they rode head-to-head against the best climbers of the race. The fact that the groups of Eric and Dawit dropped Chris Froome several times shows the quality of the riders in this year's Tour du Rwanda.
Despite the strong performance of the BIKE AID riders, one could think that they just had to fight against bad luck. On the third stage, several riders crashed on the downhill and it was impossible for Dawit to dodge. With big abrasions on his arms and legs, he got straight back on his bike and worked his way back to his group.
On the following stage, which was the decisive one for the GC riders, Dawit and Eric rode at the front of the race. In a small group they arrived at the last climb of the day and Dawit had to stop with a mechanical defect. He fought back bravely, took full risk on the descent and the 180 kilometres and 4,100 metres of climbing he had done up to that point hardly left a mark on him. He gave it his all, but did not manage to catch up with the lead group, which settled the victory among themselves. The disappointment was written all over Dawit's face.
Despite crashes and defects, Team BIKE AID managed to start the final stage with a promising position in the general classification. Eric Muhoza was 8 seconds behind the overall leader. Everyone knew that this would be a difficult task. But it was not impossible. However, the dream did not even last 6 kilometres. When Eric arrived at the first cobblestone section of the day, his rear derailleur broke off. The group was gone and despite the help of his teammates, he could not catch up. Dawit Yemane from Eritrea was still at the front. He managed to pull away from the group on the last climb and it looked as if he would win the 8th stage in a spectacular way. However, 200 metres before the finish, five riders, including former BIKE AID rider Henok Mulubrhan, caught up with him and Dawit had to surrender. With the stage win, Mulubrhan also managed to defend his lead in the overall standings.
The fact that a team with three new riders works together well on their first time racing together, takes on roles and also harmonises and has fun away from the race action is something special. In the end, Dawit finishes seventh overall, which is rather less reflective of the team's performance as a whole. Even if more was hoped for in the final result, the five riders clearly showed that they are at the top of their game in this race and have the potential to win it. The season has just started and the boys are already eager for the upcoming races!