COSTA Seibeb won the Nedbank Cycle Challenge for the second year in a row when he completed the 100km event in a time of two hours, 28 minutes and 36 seconds in Windhoek yesterday.
Heinrich Köhne came second five seconds behind while junior cyclist Martin Freyer came third in 2:38:44.
Another junior cyclist Tristan de Lange came fourth in the same time, while Namibia's defending road race national champion Loto Petrus came fifth in 2:28:48.
Riding in sunny but cool morning conditions, a record entry of about 1 200 cyclists started the 28th Nedbank Cycle Challenge in Independence Avenue.
The cyclists, who competed in four categories over 100km, 75km, 35km and 20km, soon spread out over the Western Bypass, before returning to the finish line at Windhoek Gymnasium School.
The longer distances also included the Daan Viljoen hills, where the first telling breakaway took place as a group of six cyclists got away from the leading peleton.
They included Seibeb, Köhne, Freyer, junior cyclists Pascal Marggraff and Tristan de Lange and Loto Petrus.
They built up a lead of more than a minute on the chasing pack, till the final stages when Seibeb broke away to win the race by five seconds from Köhne.
Seibeb was elated with his victory.
"It was quite hard but I made it and I'm happy now. We worked together in the front, but the guys were keeping the pace down and I was really worried that the second bunch would catch us," Seibeb said.
"So I was shouting at them to keep up the pace, so that the other guys cannot catch up and then I tried to attack at the end," he added.
Seibeb, who is currently training at the UCI African Cycling Centre in Potchefstroom, South Africa, especially came up to Namibia to defend his title.
"I came back to defend my title because it's an important race for me. I hope my coach is also happy there in South Africa," he said.
Seibeb said his Namibian compatriots needed to work harder, though.
"The Namibian cyclists are really strong but they don't want to work. They are scared of using up their energy, but they must just push hard all the way. But the cyclists here are strong and cycling here is almost at the same level as South Africa," he added.
Second-placed Köhne congratulated Seibeb and the rest of the cyclists for the strong competition.
"It was a tough race this time around, but it was a good race by all the guys. I had a battle sticking with the guys on the hills and at one stage I thought I didn't have the legs to keep up but coming down from Matchless I recovered a bit and pulled it through."
Third-placed Freyer congratulated the winners and said it was a tough race.
"The end was really fast and there was tough competition from good riders like Costa Seibeb and Loto Petrus, so it was really tough, but in the end I guess the strongest guy won. I didn't come here to win, I came here to ride my bike with people who love riding," he said.
Junior cyclist Chelna Neethling was a surprise winner of the women's 100km race, beating Irene Steyn by three seconds to the line.
The 18-year-old Neethling won in 2:39:38, with Steyn coming second in 2:39:41 and Janine van der Merwe third in 2:39:53.
It was the first time that Neethling had won a senior race and she was elated with her performance.
"I can't believe that I won, I'm very surprised. I didn't think that I would win because I'm still quite young, but I trained very hard," she said.
"I started cramping after about 50km and then I just had to keep on going. I just tried to keep calm and when I caught Irene I was very surprised," she said.