Successful visit of our boys in Rwanda – Förderverein Shift Up For Rwanda e.V.

Successful visit of our boys in Rwanda

The Rwandan Epic MTB race was the reason for our first visit and thus also the beginning of the whole story. A few days ago the race took place again, or rather over the thousand hills of Rwanda, and of course we were there. But there was much more on the program than just riding the race and so we were happy to meet Florent again in real life, to spend a week with his kids and to hand over more material.


The journey was bumpy and the group was smaller than originally planned, but in the end Daniel and Florian made it to Kigali with three bikes and lots of spare parts and helmets. At the Rwandan Epic, Daniel and his racing partner Bart from Holland were to start with the goal of winning the overall, Florian rode with coach Didi and Banzi with Merci, and JD and Vale from the Boyz each formed a team. They were well represented in the large field of over 120 riders and the blue and green SUFR jerseys stood out. The Rwandan Epic is a two-man team race, known from MTB races, and five stages awaited the athletes.

Photo: Simon De Schutter
Photo: Simon De Schutter


After checking the bikes and realizing that in future we would try to coach or help people to help themselves with bike maintenance as well as English, we started with an 8km prologue on Mount Kigali. The surprise was not bad when Daniel/Bart were announced as the winners and our SUFR Team 1 slipped into the yellow jersey. Incidentally, this was not yellow, but white and to the delight of all racers sponsored by the local brewery Skol. With Flo/Didi and the Youngguns in fifth, seventh and twelfth, the other places were also very strong.

Royal stage

The 102 km queen stage to Musanze, past breathtaking views of the Twin Lakes, took us to the home of Florent and the Twin Lakes Cycling Academy. The weather continued to be sunny and the altitude got your heart pumping. Our leaders held their own and won the Queen’s Stage, while JD/Vale even finished ahead of their coach. Unfortunately, Merci had to drop out of the race that day due to a crash, but he was fine and Banzi was able to start in the solo category.

Photo: Simon De Schutter
Photo: Simon De Schutter

Change in weather

The sun was gone and from then on the weather changed and the last three stages were all very wet, the rainy season sent its greetings. Nevertheless, the performance of the SUFR teams remained at a high level and while Daniel was marching to the front, the others were learning more every day in terms of riding technique and tactics. Even if it wasn’t easy with his own race, Daniel always tried to give some instructions, coaching sessions and tips to the team in the evenings. Some of them were understood, but sometimes Florent had to translate into the local language and ask for clarification.

Photo: IGIHE
Photo: IGIHE

Final stage

Everyone crossed the finish line at Lake Kivu with a big smile on their faces, and JD/Vale were responsible for that, as they were able to pass the Kenyans (who were competing in the World Championships) on the last day and were the second team to finish the stage after Daniel/Bart. On the longest climb of the race, right at the beginning of the stage up to 2,800 meters, they were in their element and with tactical instructions from Daniel they managed to leave some of the Europeans behind.


All in all it was a mega great presence of the guys and our SUFR troop made a lasting impression. Many silent observers in Rwanda were shown that the project is already bearing fruit and the story was impressively conveyed to all participants on site. The first donations and members have already been received. We were also able to take away some homework and insights that only a visit on site can reveal. But we are on the right track, the joy at handing over the bikes was immense and therefore a clear SHIFT UP FOR RWANDA.

Results Rwanda Epic 2023:
1. Daniel Gathof/ Bart Classens Team, SHIFT UP FOR RWANDA 1
2. Bobby Joseph/ Ndung Wa Keiya, Team Kenia
3. Ota Zima/ Miroslav Rybacek, Fly4Sport Racing
6. Didier Munyaneza/ Florian Magdalenc, SHIFT UP FOR RWANDA 2
7. Jean Dieu Manizabayo/ Valens Iradukunda, Twin Lakes Cycling Academy

2. Banzi Bukhari, Twin Lakes Cycling Academy