Adrien Niyonshuti hasn’t had an easy road to sporting success. When he was seven years old, he narrowly escaped being murdered in the Rwandan genocide in 1994 (six of Nyonshuti’s brothers were killed).

Early in his teenage years, Nyonshuti wasn’t able to afford a bike, but when he turned 16, he began cycling on a bike that was donated to him by his uncle. A few years later he was noticed by professional cyclist, Jonathan Boyer (the first American to compete in the Tour de France), who recruited him for the Rwandan national cycling team.

Since then Niyonshuti has ridden from strength to strength, garnering trophies and respect in both South Africa and Rwanda. He has just completed the ABSA Cape Epic, his next major goal is to do well at the Olympics (where he’s representing Rwanda). Long term, Niyonshuti wants to take part in the hallowed Tour de France. This is another athlete you’ll be seeing more of on your TV screen.

Consistency is the most important factor in training

“You can’t do a heavy training session once a week and then think that you’re fit. After consistency, recovery is very important. So is eating correctly and getting enough sleep. I’ve learnt to practice everything in training that I use, and do, on race day so that I know how it affects my body. You need to rest well and never go into an event over trained. Listen to your body.”

Training isn’t just about cardiovascular fitness

“The only cross training I do is running and strength training. This helps a lot with mountain biking as you need upper body strength, a strong core and a high bone density will help you to recover quicker if you crash or fall. I ride for four hours a day and have one rest day a week. I also do strength training and run for 45 minutes twice weekly. Lastly, I also make sure I have at least one massage a week.”

Nature is the toughest trainer. But she’s beautiful too

“I love training outdoors. Mountain biking is much more enjoyable than road cycling and you get to see more of the countryside. The fresh air and silence helps me to focus on the terrain in front of me. The forest has no traffic or city-like hustle and bustle – the atmosphere is peaceful and it calms me. Being on my mountain bike is also a true test of pure power. There are no bunches where you can hide behind other riders (like in road cycling). It’s also taught me never to underestimate the terrain or to try and predict the weather. You can feel strong and then get hit by a mechanical issue like a back tire puncture and your chances of winning the race immediately decrease. Training outdoors has taught me patience, to never give up, no matter what gets thrown your way.”

My secret weapon

“I use a SRM powermeter (for more info, check out srm.de) which tracks power, speed, distance, altitude, heart rate and temperature. I download my files daily so that my coach can track my training and see how I am doing.”