Namibia: Craven to Cycle Pro-Continental Next Year

Top Namibian cyclist Dan Craven has expressed excitement at the news that his Cycling Academy team from Israel will be competing pro-continental next year.

Pro-continental teams are allowed to compete in the biggest races in the world, like the Tour de France, but only on invitation.

Craven and his team compete in the continental circuits, which comprise a series of road bicycle racing competitions with five circuits each representing Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania. These circuits are inferior to the International Cycling Union (UCI) World Tour. It was introduced by the UCI to encourage the expansion of cycling worldwide.

Speaking to Nampa via email on Thursday, Craven, who is in his first year with the team, said riding pro-continental is a very big move and means a tremendous amount of work from everyone involved with the team.

"In the first year at that level one can expect only a handful of those big invitations but over time, and as the team establishes itself at the new level, those will increase," he said.

Craven said he is still enjoying his stay with the team.

"I feel I have been here much longer than I actually have been. This is the team's second year in existence, and it has grown so significantly."

There were concerns when he joined the team, with some feeling he had taken a huge risk by joining a relatively new team from Israel.

Craven said it was a calculated risk.

"Even though joining this team might have looked like a step down from my previous team, and it was a bit of a risk, it is already paying dividends. I am really able to express myself in this team and feel a part of it, something that I have often struggled with in the past.

"We have formed an amazing bond between the riders and everyone really enjoys working together for a common goal."

On his Olympic Games participation, he said the Rio Olympics road race is the toughest road cycling race in Olympics history and suits only a select few racers. "This means I have a very tough race."

Craven is preparing for the Olympics by taking part in an eight-week race road trip that has taken him across parts of the United States of America, Canada, Hungary and Romania. He will be leaving for Spain soon, before heading to the Italian Alps for a final training camp at altitude after which he will fly directly to Brazil.

The 2016 Olympic Games take place from 5 to 21 August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Craven is one of 10 Namibians who will take part in the games. The remaining nine are boxers Junius Jonas and Mathias Hamunyela; marathon runners Helalia Johannes, Beata Naigambo, Alina Armas and Mynhardt Kauanivi; cyclists Vera Adrian and Michelle Vorster, and shooter Gaby Ahrens.

Source: The Namibian