As Russian troops march on Kyiv, Ukrainian Anatolii Budiak took home the victory in stage 6 of the Tour of Rwanda, pointing to the sky and dedicating the win to “all the Ukrainian people.”
Reached by CyclingTips following his victory Friday, Budiak appealed to authorities to end the conflict that erupted this week. “Through your publication, I can appeal to the authorities and people of Russia, please stop the war!!!” he wrote. “It’s not our fault that people suffer and die. Please stop the war, the Ukrainian people want peace!”
“I never thought that the brotherly people and our neighbor would attack us,” Budiak said. “The situation is complex and uncertain, the entire people of Ukraine are in fear. Nobody wants war in Ukraine, everyone wants peace and tranquillity. But when we are attacked, people have to defend themselves and defend themselves.”
Budiak, who represented Ukraine at the Tokyo Olympics, was born in Vinnytsia, in central Ukraine, roughly 260 kilometers southwest of the capital Kyiv. The country’s capital was hammered by missile strikes Thursday night and into Friday and, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, Russian troops attempted to land along the Kyiv reservoir and entered the Obolon district, a few miles north of the city center. Missiles have hit targets across Ukraine and leaders across the globe have condemned the invasion.
A literal and figurative world away, Budiak won a two-up sprint against Eritrean Natnael Tesfatsion, who won the race overall in 2020. The difficult stage took in four categorized climbs, including the Hors Categorie Tetero climb, and finished with a kicker up into Kigali.
Budiak, 26, races for the Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team and is having a superb Tour of Rwanda. His victory comes after a string of top-10s, including a second-place on stage 4. He sits in second place overall. Friday’s stage win is his largest since returning from a shortened, 18-month doping ban following a positive test for the stimulant mesocarb at the Tour de l’Avenir in 2017.
“I am grateful to all my coaches, managers, sponsors and fans,” he told CyclingTips. “This is our common victory. Today the stage was held in a good rhythm, all opponents are strong and worthy. I tried my best, and today I managed to win. I dedicate this victory to all the Ukrainian people, who are now going through a difficult time.”