Africa: Namibia to Host African Mb Champs

The Namibian Cycling Federation (NCF) is gearing up for a busy year which will culminate in the hosting of the African Mountain Bike Championships in Windhoek in April.

Besides that, several important events are in the pipeline over the next month, including the African Cycling Championships which will serve as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games.

The president of the NCF, Rolf Adrian returned from Johannesburg on Monday where he attended a meeting of the Southern African Cycling Federations which was chaired by the president of the Confederation of African Cycling, Dr Mohamed Azzam.

At the meeting Namibia's hosting of the African Championships was finalised and signed and Adrian said they hoped to stage the biggest event yet.

"We first held the championships in 2007 when only Namibia and South Africa participated. Since then cycling has blossomed in Africa and this time we are expecting more than 15 countries to participate," he said.

"The International Cycling Federation (UCI) will also present a mountain bike training course three weeks before the championships to which each country may send two cyclists so we hope to have about 24 cyclists there," he added.

Besides that, an international race for junior cyclists will also be held a week before the African Championships where cyclists can pick up international ranking points so Adrian is also hoping for a big turn-out there.

Namibia's top cyclists are currently hard at work preparing for the African Cycling Championships in Ethiopia next month, which will serve as a qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games.

In the men's event, the first two nations over the line will qualify for the Olympics, although countries that have riders who are ranked amongst the top 50 in the world, will qualify automatically. Namibia, therefore, might have an outside chance of qualifying, but the competition is bound to be very tough.

Namibia will be represented by Dan Craven, who is currently riding in the United States, Drikus Coetzee, Xavier Papo and Alex Miller.

In the women's category, only the first rider over the line will gain a qualifying spot for her country at the Olympics. Namibia will be represented by Vera Adrian who won the African Championships three years ago and Michelle Vorster, but South Africa should start as the favourites, while Mauritius and Eritrea should also be amongst the favourites.

Namibia's top male cyclists have been hard at work, training over the festive season and are currently competing in the Mpumalanga Tour against South Africa's top riders.

After the fourth stage on Monday, Drikus Coetzee was Namibia's top placed rider lying 19th overall, more than 10 minutes behind the race leader, Matt Beers of South Africa.

Alex Miller came 22nd in the fourth stage, Xavier Papo 31st, Johannes Hamunyela 41st, Fiffy Kashululu 42nd and Jafet Amukushu 43rd. The tour consists of six stages and will be completed tomorrow.

According to Adrian, Namibian cyclists have improved compared to last year.

"Last year Tristan de Lange came 13th overall and Drikus 15th, but our other cyclists were nowhere to be seen. This time, however, all our cyclists are still in the race and it shows that the training camp we held in mid-December has really paid off," he said.

Namibia's top cyclists will also be in action at the National Cycling Championships at the end of the month. The National Time Trial Championships will be held in the vicinity of the Okahandja Road on 1 February, while the National Road Race Championships will be held in Kleine Kuppe two days later.

Meanwhile, the Windhoek Pedal Power Nedbank Cycling Series will commence this weekend with the Dordabis Road Race on Sunday morning.

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