Craven Breaks New Ground

Dan Craven broke new ground for Namibian cycling when he was recently signed up by Team Europcar.

With Team Europcar being one of the top professional teams in Europe, it will be the first time that a Namibian cyclist competes at the highest level of cycling in Europe. Craven will also become only the fourth African cyclist in recent years to have raced at that level.

At a press conference in Windhoek on Saturday, Craven made the announcement, saying it was the highlight of his career.

“This is my tenth year of racing overseas and I’ve been trying to reach this level, so this matters a lot to me. I love the team, I’ve seen them and once my French improves I’ll have a good relationship with them. We still have to sign the contract but if all goes well, I’ll ride in the Tour of Spain which is one of the top three in the world along with the Tour de France and the Tour of Italy,” he said.

Craven said he was extremely excited but realised that he would have to prove himself at the highest level.

“It’s extremely exciting and the Tour of Spain is a massive thing to build up towards, but I have simply finished my previous level and need to prove myself all over again. If I was British or Italian I would have stopped cycling long ago, but because I’m from Namibia I’m also setting a path for younger riders like Costa (Seibeb) and Till (Drobisch) and creating opportunities for them,” he said.

After an, at times successful, but ultimately unfulfilling career in Europe, Craven was already considering retirement if he did not reach his potential this year.

“I want to go out there and prove that there is more to me as a bike rider than would appear over the last few years. My aim this year is to change all perceptions of what I’m capable of. That is what I’m going to do and if for some reason that were not to happen then it could possibly be my last year, so I’m going out to change things,” he said during an interview in January.

Craven thanked Nedbank for their support and faith in Namibian cycling and recounted how that had played a role in his new contract.

“Through Nedbank’s support, we could participate in Gabon where I rekindled my relationship with their manager and now I will sign with Team Europcar. It’s one of the top teams in the world there are 185 third division teams in the world and previously it was just Erik Hoffmann, Loto Petrus and I who had raced at that level. Never before has a Namibian competed in division one or two, and Europcar is one of those teams,” he said.

Ingo Schneider of Old Mutual recounted their growing sponsorship of cycling in Namibia, from development through to national level, and said it made sense to progress to an international stage.

“The best stage is through the international stage. We appreciate the value that Dan Craven brings by inspiring youngsters to follow in his footsteps, so it makes sense to develop a relationship with someone of Dan Craven’s calibre. I can confirm such a partnership with Dan that will allow him to give his knowledge and experience to the youth,” he said.

The secretary general of the Namibian Cycling Federation, Gerrit van Schalkwyk congratulated Craven on his achievement.

“Cycling takes years and years of training, lots of dedication and lots of falls and it’s really only tough men who reach that level. We are really proud of Dan but the hard work only starts now. But we believe in you because we know your work ethic,” he said.

“Europcar has a development team and there is thus a possibility for Costa or Till to get into their development team. It will open doors and one will see that it’s possible for a Namibian kid from Katutura to ride for a top team. We have a bunch of young riders coming through like Martin Freyer, Michael Pretorius and Tristan de Lange and this will inspire them,” he added.

Gernot de Klerk of Nedbank confirmed that they would not have a presence on Craven’s racing gear, but that he would be their cycling ambassador when in Namibia.

“We have signed a contract in terms of which Dan Craven will be our cycling ambassador when he competes in Namibia,” he said.

Source : The Namibian