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Dimension Data’s riders are blazing a trail at the U23 Giro d’Italia

Joseph Delves
15 Jun 2017

Win for Areruya and a strong position in the mountains classification for Dlamini prove there's good things on the way for the African squad

For most riders and fans the Giro d'Italia finished weeks ago, but for promising young riders the U23 version is only just coming to a close when it finishes with a mountainous stage ending on the Campo Imperatore. Attracting an extremely strong field made up of the next generation of stage racers, the seven day tour has already provided a first.

On stage 5-a (the first part of a split stage) Joseph Areruya of Dimension Data became the first Rwandan cyclist to win a stage of an international race.

He also secured the first win for Dimension Data’s all-African continental team, which acts as the feeder team for the Dimension Data WorldTour squad.

The 21-year-old rider had been working for Southa African teammate Nicholas Dlamini, who was aiming to take points in the climber’s competition.

‘We are extremely happy with the result, it is really a special day. The team has been racing so well this week though and buoyed by this confidence, they have been racing from the front and when you are at the front opportunities will arise.' explained the team’s sport director Andrew Smith.

'Joseph took his opportunity and he showed how strong he was today because no team could bring him back. It was a fantastic win and a special day for our team.’

Areruya only joined the team, which is based in Italy, at the beginning of this year having earlier attended the Adrien Niyonshuti cycling academy, started by the eponymous fellow Rwandan Dimension Data WorldTour rider.

Following the stage the Rwanda National Federation quoted Areruya as saying; ‘I’m really happy. This is a historical moment but I just did my job.

'I thank God and the team and I want dedicate my first victory in Europe to my mother. My dream is to compete in the Tour de France, the biggest race of all, like Daniel Teklehaimanot, an African rider who made it among the greats’.

Areruya’s win is not the only good result for the squad. His teammate Dlamini had already done well in securing enough points on the hilly opening stage of the Giro d'italia to be the first rider into the green climbers' jersey. An accolade he has so far held for the entire race.

Following an early break in a later hilly stage he was able to extend his overall lead in the competition. If he can defend it to the summit finish on the final stage it will be remarkable achievement for the young rider who grew up in the township of Capricorn near Cape Town.

With the race providing a proving ground for the coming crop of Grand Tour riders, the future looks likely to see far more black African riders following Daniel Teklehaimanot, Natnael Berhane and Adrien Niyonshuti into the WorldTour peloton.