Namibia: Team Cathy Off to Winning Start

Team Cathy won the opening race of the Nedbank Cycling Team Series on the 111km Dordabis Road on Sunday when they managed to pip Team Hollard Life by a mere two seconds to the title.

With the first three cyclists' times counting towards the overall team result, Team Cathy managed to take the overall title after Jacques Celliers and Pierre Knoetze finished first and second, while their third rider, Jaco Hanekom finished about five minutes behind.

Team Hollard Life, a newcomer to the team event this year, however, nearly pipped them to the title after a great ride by Drikus Coetzee.

With about 20km to go, Coetzee's team mate Heiko Diehl got a flat tyre while their other rider in the leading peleton, Clinton Hilfiker, couldn't keep up and dropped off the pace a bit later.

With 10km to go, Coetzee was more than a minute behind the leaders, but he managed to close the gap and at the end finished five seconds behind the leaders in third place.

Combined with the times of Diehl and Hilfiker, they, however, just fell short of the title, finishing a mere two seconds behind Team Cathy overall.

Coetzee, who last week still represented the Namibia Cycling Federation (NCF) team at the gruelling seven-day Mpumalanga Tour in South Africa, said they had to change their team tactics during the race.

"We had nominated Clinton and Heiko to pick up bonus seconds on the hot spots, so I was just riding for the team with Ingram Cuff in the bunch. But when I saw that they had dropped off we had to change plans so I broke away and went after the leaders. I managed to close the gap, but in the end it was just not enough," he said.

Alex Miller was the first cyclist over the line, but because he was riding as an individual and not for a team, he didn't come into consideration for the team title.

It was a fine effort by Coetzee who last week also shone at the Mpumalanga Tour by coming 14th overall.

Miller, then riding as his team mate for the NCF team, came 21st overall, while their other team mates Fiffy Kashululu, Jojo Hamunyela, Jafet Amukushu and Xavier Papo failed to complete the tour after being pulled off on the last stage.

Coetzee said he was aiming to do the double at the National Cycling Championships, with the individual time trial on 1 February and the road race two days later.

"I improved on last year when I came 15th overall at the Mpumalanga Tour so I'm happy with my performance and it was good preparation for the National Championships and the African Championships which are coming up over the next month," he said.

"I hope to defend my time trial title at the national championships and also win the road race so that I can wear the Namibian champion's jersey at the African Championships," he added.

In the women's race on Sunday, Genevieve Weber of Team Food Lover's Market was the first rider over the line, but the team results had not been finalised by the time of writing.

The new chairperson of Windhoek Pedal Power club, Ingrid Milz, meanwhile expressed satisfaction with the turnout, with 175 cyclists competing in the various categories.

"We had a good turnout for the first race of the season and it was also pleasing to see the number of young cyclists who participated," she said.

"The team competition has raised the level of our cycling, because now there are a lot of team factors that cyclists have to bear in mind," she added.

According to Milz the WPP will also expand their development efforts this year.

"Our mountain bike development programme is well established now with about 70 to 80 riders attending our weekly sessions, while we are also starting a development programme for road bikes this year. We will have these sessions at the Tony Rust race track on Tuesdays," she said.

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