Top Cyclists Gear Up for National Champs

THE Namibian National Cycling Championships take place this weekend with both the senior men and women’s titles expected to be fiercely contested.

The championships will consist of an individual time trial starting at 16h00 on Friday on the Otjihase Road on the way to Heja Lodge, and the Road Race on Sunday.

Last year’s Elite Men’s winner, Costa Seibeb is back to defend his national title, but he can expect tough competition from U-23 cyclist Martin Freyer.

Freyer won the first Nedbank Series race over 120km last weekend when he beat Seibeb into third place, with Ingram Cuff coming second.

Seibeb’s training programme however has been geared towards next month’s African Cycling Championships which take place in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and over the longer distance he will be tough to beat.

They can however g competition from Namibia’s top professional cyclist Dan Craven, who is also expected to compete. Craven has been training with his team Europcar and participated in a race in Majorca, Spain yesterday. He was due to fly to Namibia after the race and is expected to line up for Sunday’s road race, although he will miss today’s time trial.

Other top riders who could make an impression include Fifi Kashululu, Xavier Papo, Heiko Redecker, Pascal Marggraff and Michael Pretorius.

The National Championships will also serve as preparation for the African Cycling Championships which take place close to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa from 9 to 14 February.

A Namibian team has already been selected, but the National Championships could still serve to finalise the Individual and Team Time Trial teams for the African Championships.

The senior men’s team for the African Championships consists of Craven, Kashululu and Papo, while the U-23 team consists of Seibeb, Freyer, Marrgraff, Danzyl de Koe and Charl Fouche, with Michael Pretorius the reserve.

A g junior men’s team has also been selected for the African Championships, consisting of Tristan de Lange, Herbert Peters and Brandon Plaatjies.

In the Elite Women’s category, defending champion Vera Adrian will be back to defend her title, but she can expect g competition from Heletje van Staden, Irene Steyn and Michelle Vorster.

Steyn won last weekend’s race in the absene of the other three, but they are all expected to be back for the National Championships.

All four cyclists have been included in the national team to compete at the African Championships and they, too, will be battling it out for places in the time trial teams.

Sofia Simon, who is training at the African Cycling Centre in Potchefstroom, South Africa has also been included for the African Championships in the junior women’s category.

A lot will be at stake at the African Championships, which will serve as a qualifying event for the 2016 Olympic Games. The first two countries will qualify directly for the Olympic Games, but cyclists will still have an opportunity to qualify via the African Cycling Tour.

Sunday’s National Road Race Championships will start at 07h00 at Cymot’s headquarters in the Northern Industrial area and will cover several loops on the Western Bypass and the Daan Viljoen road. The Elite men and U-23 men will cover 135km while the Elite women, veteran and junior men will cover 96km.

There will also be various other categories ranging from masters down to U-10 level. The prize giving ceremony for both the Time Trial and Road Race will be held at 12h00 at Cymot’s headquarters.

Source : The Namibian