The South African continental squad ProTouch were readying themselves for one of the biggest race days of their season at the Maryland Cycling Classic.
Lining up alongside the likes of Michael Matthews, Dylan Groenewegen, Giacomo Nizzolo and Magnus Cort, ProTouch posted an illustration on their Instagram depicting the six riders who’d be representing them on the east coast of the United States against the backdrop of an American flag.
They proceeded to post individual photos of only five of the riders, building excitement, followed later by a group shot of the same five riders 10 minutes before the start in Baltimore County. There was, however, one rider missing.
Their 24-year-old Rwandan rider Samuel Mugisha, the overall winner of the 2018 Tour du Rwanda, got on his flight and arrived in America on Wednesday August 31 as planned, the team has confirmed.
But instead of making his way to the arranged transfer to meet up with his squad, as had been organised, he made his own arrangements to be collected at the airport.
Mugisha never arrived at the team accommodation or the race he was supposed to line up at, which was won by Israel – Premier-Tech’s Sep Vanmarcke. ProTouch and the Maryland Classic’s organisers have reported Mugisha as a missing person with the authorities.
CyclingTips understands there is no concern for Mugisha’s safety after security footage showed the rider being collected by people he knew at the airport. African athletes often struggle when seeking visas to compete internationally in what is already a difficult process and Mugisha’s disappearance is unlikely to help the situation.
Athletes going missing while involved in international competition isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. At the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, 13 athletes from Cameroon, Rwanda, Uganda and Sierra Leone vanished, while more than 40 went missing, overstayed, or sought asylum at the 2006 Games in Melbourne. At the 2012 London Olympic Games 21 athletes and coaches disappeared and some still haven’t been found.