Exemplifying Qhubeka's mission ‘to carry on’
Adrien Niyonshuti of Team MTN-Qhubeka exemplifies the ability of bicycles to instill hope and transform lives. The 27-year-old native of Rwanda started racing at age 16 with minimal training and a borrowed bike. In 2012, he competed in the mountain bike cross country race in the Olympics and was flag bearer for Rwanda in the opening ceremonies. His personal story was movingly told in the highly acclaimed documentary “Rising from Ashes.”
After missing last season to illness, Niyonshuti is ready to roll in to the new season with MTN-Qhubeka, which rides SRAM drivetrains with Zipp wheels. The South African-based team aims to provide opportunities for African riders to excel at the highest levels of the sport while promoting the work of Qhubeka, which is World Bicycle Relief’s program in South African. Qhubeka is an Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa) word that means “to carry on,” “to progress,” “to move forward.” We caught up with Niyonshuti as he begins his season:
After being out for most of the season because of illness, you finished ninth in your first race of the season at your home-country Tour of Rwanda. What did that performance mean to you to be back racing and to give such a solid performance?
What are your cycling goals for the next season? Do you hope to race in Europe more in races like Milan-San Remo?
What sort of effect have you seen Team MTN-Qhubeka have on cycling in Rwanda and across Africa? Is the sport gaining in popularity and are more young people seeing cycling as a competitive outlet?
Tell us about your efforts with the Adrien Niyonshuti Cycling Academy. How many young cyclists do you work with? What are their goals?
In what ways have you seen cycling empower people in Africa, either through racing or through the distribution by Qhubeka of Buffalo Bicycles for transportation?
What is your favorite feature of the SRAM RED components you race and train with?
What is your favorite set of Zipp Firecrest wheels and why? What do you notice most about Zipp wheels?
How did Nelson Mandela inspire you as an African and as an athlete?