Robisch and Looser make Dash history

Usual suspects dominate solo categories.

10 December 2018 | Sports

Rebecca Robisch; cyclist; “This was the hardest race ever for me due to the strong headwinds that prevailed in the beginning.”

Leandrea Louw - For the fourth consecutive year, Swiss cyclist Konny Looser (29) crossed the finish line first in the 14th edition of the Nedbank Desert Dash, while Germany’s Rebecca Robisch (30) clinched the women’s solo title in the gruelling 373km mountain bike race from Windhoek to Swakopmund for a third time.

Looser, who finished in a time of 14 hours and 22 minutes, said that the third stage of the race was the toughest for him. “Winning is nice, but being on the bike was no fun at all. During the first half we raced against a strong wind and I suffered from stomach cramps. I had to fight. A win is a win and I am happy that I could achieve my goal. I had to be very careful not to over pace and stayed with the Gondwana team to save energy. I am lucky that it worked for me in the end.”

He said that the mood and vibe of the race serves as motivation for him. “Riding past Kupferberg is quite spectacular with all the fans watching and cheering the riders on. The whole race is simply great.”

Responding to a question if he would do the Desert Dash again, Looser said he was not sure if he would return for another Dash next year.

Robisch, who finished the race within 17 hours and 17 minutes, said she wanted to give up at one stage but that her mother insisted that she continue. A turning point for her was the fact that she caught up with Irene Steyn, who was leading the race in the first half.

“This was the hardest race ever for me due to the strong headwinds that prevailed in the beginning. I struggled a lot during the first half of the race and thought of giving up. My mom told me to keep going to the next stage. I started feeling better and drafted with the men to preserve some energy for the end.”

Robisch complimented the organisers for hosting a spectacular event and a race with a familiar feel.

“I enjoy returning to Namibia and this particular Desert Dash taught me not to give up. I don’t think I’ll do another Dash though.”

Hot on their heals

Drikus Coetzee who set the pace from the start and was caught by Looser during the second stage, finished as runner up in the men’s solo category in a time of 14:56. Jacques Tattersall was third in 16:15.

In the ladies’ solo event, Irene Steyn took second in a time of 18 hours and 19 minutes, followed by Ciska van der Byl in third spot in 19 hours.

The first 4-persons’ men team to cross the finish line, was Gondwana Masters in 14:22. Team Hollard finished in second position (14:34) while Megatech Mannies Bike Mecca took third spot in 14:37.

R&R Importers won the 4-person mixed team category (16:04) followed by Indongo Toyota in second (16:22) and team Hollard in third position (16:24).

The 2-man team event was won by Team Hollard (14:59 minutes) followed by NCCS (15:28), ahead of team Cycles4U Elite (16:10).

The winning 2-person ladies’ team was Swakopmund Guesthouse (19:02), followed by Uber Girls (19:7) and Delush (21:59) in third.

Husband and wife team Christiaan and Silke Bean of team Beauty and the Bean, won the 2-person mixed team event (18:13), while Team FNB (Marion Schonecke and Ananias Tamati) finished second in 18:39. Dalie Maritz and Willie Junius of team Pari Passu took third in 19:33.

In the 4-person ladies’ event, team Speedy Sloths took gold in 20:20, followed by EpieQ, whose team member Mayvonne Swart (16) – a learner at Pro Ed Academy - was the youngest rider to complete this year’s Dash. Third place went to Ladies in Red, who finished in 22:58.

Illustrious achievement

This year’s event saw more than 1 000 riders from 14 countries cycling in solo, 2-person and 4-person slots participating in the world’s longest single-stage mountain bike race.

Completing the Dash is an illustrious achievement all cyclists want to add behind their names or tick off from their bucket list, said Nedbank’s head of marketing and communications Gernot de Klerk.

“The Desert Dash is not only a physical challenge but also a mental endurance challenge. There is no easy or quick way to conquer the Dash, and the time in the saddle before the race, as cyclists say, is what makes all the difference. After all the hard work, the rush of tackling the treacherous route is an experience that stays with you forever.”

As is the norm, an electrifying atmosphere prevailed at the starting line on Friday at the Grove Mall in Windhoek at 15:00, while family, friends and cycling enthusiasts welcomed the weary, but supremely satisfied and proud cyclists at the finish line at the Platz am Meer Shopping Mall on Saturday in Swakopmund.

Organiser Mannie Heymans expressed his satisfaction with the event, saying that the new finishing point was warranted due to space constraints at Tiger Reef.

Fund raising

Four solo riders – Uwe Diekmann, Gerhard Gulewitz, Patrick Muppertz and Christoph Meier – participated in the Desert Dash to raise funds for the Pro Namibian Children’sHhome. The home caters for 120 orphans and vulnerable children, and is based near the Omomas Farm. The riders managed to raise N$750 000 for the home.

Solo cyclist Ettienne Soekoe pedalled for the Insimbi Legacy Projects, a non-profit organisation raising funds to protect the White Rhino. The funds raised are to assist the anti-poaching team in the Bosveld, Speranza and Messina areas in South Africa.

The Old Dogs for Wild Dogs, a 4-person grandmaster cycling team, took on the challenge to raise funds for the Cheetah Conservation Fund. The team includes Len le Roux, one of the founders of the Desert Dash in 2005, Dr Vincent Shaw, Andreas Brückner and Ecki Fyer.

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