NAMIBIA's longest running mass cycling event the Nedbank Cycle Challenge will be held for the 34th year in Windhoek on 15 and 16 February.
At the launch on Tuesday, Nedbank Namibia's chief financial officer JG van Graan said the event had become an integral part on the sporting calendar.
"The Nedbank Road Challenge has developed a special allure since 1986 and its recipe has not changed: On Sunday morning, 16 February, we will have hundreds of cyclists line up on Independence Avenue by the crack of dawn. Some of them will be bright-eyed youngsters ready to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mannie Heymans, Erik Hoffmann, Costa Seibeb, Dan Craven, Vera Adrian, Irene Steyn and Michelle Vorster, by having their names etched into history as winners of our country's most prestigious cycle race," he said.
The weekend's racing will start on Saturday, 15 February with the Nedbank Mountain Bike Challenge in the vicinity of the Waldorf School on the eastern outskirts of Windhoek.
According to Van Graan, riders will be able to choose between various distances since the National MTB Championships will not take place this year.
"This year, we will have a single race weekend as we look to condense the crowded national cycling calendar and pool resources to maintain the allure of the race... The national MTB championships falls away this year and so participants can choose whether they would like a leisurely ride over 15km, or the more challenging routes over 30km or 60km," he said.
The various categories of the Nedbank MTB Challenge will start at 07h00 in the morning, and will be followed by the Nedbank Kidz Challenge.
Frank Bombosch of Cycletec who is organising the Kidz Challenge, recalled the first Swabour Tour in 1986 (the precursor to the Nedbank Challenge) that he won in 1986.
"I won the first-ever Swabank Tour in 1986 when I was only 17 years old. That tour was over 45km - then it was a big challenge, but today that's nothing.
"I had a passion for cycling and started Cycletec and now I'm involved in organising the Kidz Challenge. We believe in developing kids through play and having fun, so we will aim to introduce a fun element. There will be two courses and the cyclists can choose what they want to do so there will be no winner's prizes and and it's just about having fun," he said.
The Nedbank Road Challenge will start at 07h00 the next day on Independence Avenue, with cyclists being able to choose between the 20km, 30km, 60km and 100km distances.
The cyclists will go out on the Western Bypass with the longer distances also tackling the Daan Viljoen hills, before they return to the city centre for the finish at Zoo Park in Independence Avenue.
Online entries for the Nedbank Cycle Challenge are already open on the Events Today website (today.com.na), while entries can also be obtained from Nedbank branches countrywide, with the closing dates for all entries set at Friday, 7 February.
Van Graan thanked all their partners for their involvement, namely Windhoek Pedal Power, Rock & Rut Mountainbike Club, Events Unlimited, the Waldorf School, Cycletec, NHP, Coca-Cola and NMH, as well as the City of Windhoek and the City Police for their efforts to ensure the safety of the cyclists.
"We also appeal to all motorists, particularly on the Western Bypass and the city's busy intersections on Independence Avenue, to exercise additional caution on Sunday, 16 February and allow our participating cyclists a safe passage to the finish line at Zoo Park," he added.