Belgian powerhouse Jonathan Vervenne is the first leader of the Tour du Rwanda.

Jelle Harteel, Jan Kino, William Junior Lecerf, Pepijn Reinderink, and Jonathan Vervenne are the five riders who delivered Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team’s maiden victory of the year on the opening stage of the Tour du Rwanda. Unlike the previous edition, where the sprinters were in the spotlight on the first stage, this edition got underway with a team time trial held around Kigali, over an undulating 18.3km course.

The squad was the last one to roll down the ramp and got off to a very solid start, living up to their status as one of the main favourites. Going into the last two kilometers, which were uphill, the young wolves had a big advantage over their opponents, but an unfortunate crash of Pepijn just as the road began tilting upwards gave them a scare. While the Dutchman returned on his bike and continued the race behind, his teammates kept powering on and clocked the winning time of 20:32, having averaged 53.47km/h.

The first rider to cross the line was 20-year-old Jonathan Vervenne, and the U23 Belgian ITT Champion had the honor of pulling on the yellow jersey at the end of Sunday’s stage.

“The boys had a very good preparation ahead of this race and were really motivated for this stage. They started out well, with some strong pacing and a good tempo, overcame with ease the tricky points on the course and had a very smooth ride. Despite the crash of Pepijn, they won by a comfortable margin, and this makes us very proud and confident for the next stages”, explained sports director Kevin Hulsmans.


Photo credit: ©Tour du Rwanda