Calzoni takes second place overall at Tour du Rwanda and wins Best Young Riders Classification
Walter Calzoni claimed an impressive second place on the General Classification of the 2023 Tour du Rwanda this Sunday, February 26th, securing the first stage-race overall podium for Q36.5 Procycling Team.
26 February 2023
In his very first stage-race as a professional, the 21-year-old Italian neo-pro had a scintillating performance throughout the race, arguably the biggest in the African Continent and topped the standings as the winner of the Best Young Rider’s Classification.
After a successful week where he scored no less than six top 10 placings, including finishing runner-up on two occasions, Calzoni went into the decisive eight and final stage, a short and explosive 75,3 km course in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on second position in the GC but on equal time with the yellow jersey Henok Mulubrhan (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè).
With the GC podium wide open, the fight for the title was fierce and the race was explosive from start to finish with multiple attacks over the seven categorised climbs, notably the famous Mur de Kigali, a 500m cobbled climb of 8.3% average gradient.
“I’m very motivated to redeem myself in the next races”
The race split into multiple groups early on and Calzoni did very well to stay at the front. Our Italian rode a strategically savvy race and stayed with the lead group of 14 riders until the end. Ultimately, the stage and GC was decided on the final uphill sprint with Mulubrhan emerging victorious and sealing the overall classification win. Calzoni put in a stellar effort and powered his SCOTT Foil to finish fifth on the stage, enough to hold on to the second position in the GC.
“Today was a really tough race. We were immediately just 14 riders at the front and in the final I missed the right pedal stroke. I’m disappointed I didn’t manage to win because the team deserved. I’m sad but at the same time very motivated to redeem myself in the next races,” said Calzoni
Calzoni’s GC podium was the direct result of his consistency over the course of the eight-stage race, where he showed not only his climbing pedigree but his sprinting prowess on the bunch sprint finales he contested A performance all the more impressive considering it was the first time Calzoni raced at length at altitude and had just two teammates to support him after stage 3.
“We can to this race with high hopes to win the overall and a stage and we came very close to achieving all our goals. I’m convinced we would have won the race GC if we hadn’t had the bad luck with Filippo Conca and Carl Fredrik Hagen who had to abandon early on. Without them we had to race very smartly and calculated. The team was fully committed, even when we were down to just three riders. The spirit was high and we fought every day for our goals,” said Alex Sans Vega, Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team Sports Director.
Despite early misfortune with the abandons of Filippo Conca (Stage 2) and Carl Fredrick Hagen (Stage 3) Q36.5 Pro Cycling Team had a stellar Tour du Rwanda. On top of Calzoni’s winning the Best Young Riders Classification and taking a second place on the GC the Swiss registered team also takes home a stage win courtesy of Matteo Badillati’s phenomenal solo victory on the queen stage.