Niyonshuti defies expectations with early return to racing, will lead MTN Qhuekba in Tour of Rwanda
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Niyonshuti defies expectations with early return to racing, will lead MTN Qhuekba in Tour of Rwanda

by Shane Stokes at 7:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
Home tour to mark competitive return for rider who suffered deep vein thrombosis after a flight

Adrien NiyonshutiShowing a faster-than-expected recovery from a serious medical condition he suffered earlier this year, Adrien Niyonshuti will return to competition ahead of schedule when he lines out in the Tour of Rwanda on Sunday.

The African rider was forced to take a complete break from racing due to a problem with deep vein thrombosis. It cropped up when he took a flight from his home country of Rwanda in mid January. Manifesting itself as a swelling in his right calf, doctors investigated the issue and discovered that he had suffered deep vein thrombosis (DVT) complicated by pulmonary emboli.

Due to the dangers of the situation, Niyonshuti was immediately hospitalized and given crucial treatment. After his release, he was put on blood thinners and told to rest.

In August he told VeloNation that he had been training hard at home and that he expected to return to outdoor training this month.

“According to recent meetings with the doctor, it looks like I will be able to return to the road in November,” he said then. “I'll be training throughout November and December and join the team when we have the training camp. If all goes according to plan, as it seems it is, I will compete with the team when the season starts in 2014.”

Being confirmed as part of MTN Qhubeka’s team for the Tour of Rwanda shows just how much progress he has made, with his return to pinning on a number two months ahead of schedule.

Unsurprisingly, he’s psyched by the thoughts of getting back into the peloton. “I am very happy to be taking part in the race,” he stated. “It’s a great opportunity and I am really happy that my team is sending our riders to support me in the race.

“I think it will be a good race for us. The team has big support behind it and it can make Rwanda more famous. There are so many people who watch the race on the side of the roads and this support will be incredible for us. It’s good for Rwandan cycling and it will be good for us if we can win this race.”

Niyonshuti lost six of his brothers in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, escaping the slaughter with his parents. Years later he took up cycling as a way to move on and to focus on something different. He won the Tour of Rwanda in 2008, and was national road race champion in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The 26 year old is regarded as one of the top young African talents and, as MTN Qhubeka team principal Douglas Ryder explains, he is keen to get back up to speed.

“Adrien started his love for cycling in his national tour and he will make his comeback to racing in the same race,” he stated. “It is poetic and he is really looking forward to being in the peloton again, something that he has missed all year. His motivation is incredibly high, it is so nice to see him happy and healthy again and ready to race.”

He will be backed by the under 23 world road race silver medalist Louis Meintjes, South African champion Jay Thomson, Songezo Jim and Johann van Zyl.

The 2.2 ranked race starts on Sunday and runs for eight days.

Ryder said that it was important for him that the team supports the UCI Africa Tour when it can. “The Tour of Rwanda is also very special to the team because Adrien is from Rwanda. The team we’re sending to support and be with Adrien in the race speaks of the respect his teammaates have for him. We’re excited about his return and thus we’re sending a really strong team in his comeback race in his home country.”

Watch a video interview with Niyonshuti below:

MTN Qhubeka for the Tour of Rwanda (UCI 2.2, November 17-24):

Adrien Niyonshuti (RWA), Johann van Zyl (RSA), Jay Thomson (RSA), Louis Meintjes (RSA), Songezo Jim (RSA)


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