‘Any one of six’ can win UCI race
Local cycling event attracts foreigners
09 April 2021 | Sports
The participation of mountain bikers from South Africa will lend extra weight to the Nedbank UCI Class 1 and UCI Junior Olympic field races taking place from early tomorrow morning at the IJG track in Kleine Kuppe.
The availability of world rankings in the UCI classes (elite, u/23 and junior men and women) makes this annual event in Windhoek an ideal opportunity for top riders from neighbouring countries to compete here.
In the u/23 and senior elite men's races at 14:30 (six track rounds) the emerging South African stars Johan van Zyl, Keagan Bontekoning and Daniel van der Walt will represent the green and gold here. All three riders are still under 23 years old, but compete in the same race as the elite men.
Tristan de Lange, after his recent participation in SA, will greatly strengthen the Namibian onslaught. His compatriots Xavier Papo, Danzel de Koe and Brandon Plaatjies can also make their mark against the highly regarded visitors like Van Zyl, who was second in the u/23 division at the South African national championship last year.
Hugo Hahn, the 2020 Namibian junior champion, largely honed his talent with road racing in the first part of the Namibian cycling season. Meanwhile Hahn has shifted his focus and is gradually staking his claim locally on his mountain bike. It will be interesting to see what he can do against the visitors.
“I think any of the top six are capable of winning these races,” predicts Hans du Toit, the Namibian national cycling coach.
Du Toit refers, among other things, to the recent results in South Africa where De Lange and Hahn also participated: SA XCO Cup Limpopo (7 March): De Lange 4th, Van Zyl 10th, Bontekoning 9th, Van der Walt 14th; and the SA XCO Gauteng Cup (March 27): De Lange 11th (technical problems), Van Zyl 8th, Bontekoning 10th, Van der Walt 7th, Hahn 15th.
• The junior men's group (13:00, five rounds) includes the extremely talented Luca Ruwiel, who will enjoy the technical track at Farm Windhoek against two of South Africa's best: Kai von During is the winner of the SA Cup in Gauteng, while Gunter Katzke finished third after Von During.
Bergran Jensen, who is in good shape, previously showed his mettle against South Africans in nail-biting races. Jensen won the West Coast mountain bike race in Swakopmund last weekend in the elite division with a sprint to the finish line.
• In the junior women (10:00, four laps) is Andrea Schofmann, who currently dominates the South African junior mountain bike scene. She climbs into the saddle against Monique du Plessis, the 2021 Namibian junior champion. The talented duo’s competition will hopefully bring out the best in both.
• Nicola Fester, Gabriela Raith, Courtney Liebenberg, Carmen Johannes and Irene Steyn will represent Namibia in the senior elite races (10:00, five rounds). Anita Yama will be the only foreign visitor to fly the Zambian flag.