Mountain-bike National Championships on Sunday
THE Namibian mountain-bike season comes to an end on Sunday when the National MB Cross-Country Championships will be held on Farm Kleine Kuppe in the hills above Windhoek Gymnasium School.
More than 70 of the country’s top riders are expected to be in action from 09h00 when the first junior categories start, through to about 12h00 when the Elite Men’s category is expected to start.
Namibia’s Marc Bassingthwaighte will use the event as a final warmup before he leaves for the Olympic Games next week and will start as the firm favourite to win the Elite Men’s category.
Bassingthwaighte won the title last year when he left a strong field that included Mannie Heymans and Heinrich Köhne trailing in his wake.
Bassingthwaighte covered the technically tricky route of about 40km in a time of 1:39,09, finishing nearly 10 minutes ahead of Heymans while Köhne came third about another seven minutes behind.
Last year Bassingthwaighte also won a silver medal a the African Mountain Bike Championships in Stellenbosch, South Africa to qualify for the London Olympic Games.
In this season’s Namibian Mountain Bike series, Bassingthwaighte and Heymans have once again been the standout riders, with Bassingthwaighte winning two and Heymans three of the five events in the series. Both cyclists have however also been competing abroad and did not compete in all the races.
Other cyclists who could come into contention for podium places include Heinrich Köhne and Jacques Celliers.
Several University of Stellenbosch students have come up to Namibia for the holidays and are expected to be amongst the favourites in the Men’s Under 23 category.
They include Heiko Redecker, Norbert Mayer and Mirko Maier, who will be fighting it out for podium places with Costa Seibeb, Frank Adrian and Joze Barth.
SHOWDOWN IN WOMEN’S RACE
The Elite Women’s race should see a great showdown between the defending champion Heletje van Staden and Vera Adrian, while Irene Steyn and Genevieve Weber could also come into the reckoning.
Van Staden won the Elite Women’s title last year while Adrian won the Junior Women’s title. Since then, however, the 18-year-old Adrian has started competing as a senior and has dominated the local Mountain Bike series, winning all three races that she competed in.
Adrian also beat Van Staden at the National Cycling Championships in February, but in April, Van Staden, who studies in Stellenbosch, came third at the African Mountain Bike Championships in Mauritius.
Irene Steyn won two legs of the five-leg cross-country series in Adrian’s absence, while Weber gave an impressive performance in the final leg on July 4, when she finished one second behind Adrian.
Race organiser Tony Bassingthwaighte said that the cyclists can once again expect a tough course.
“The track will be very challenging, so not all of our normal cyclists will be able to participate and we are only expecting about 70 this time. The course is very technical with a lot of steep climbs and descents while the single track is hard and rocky. It’s actually quite dangerous, so we don’t expect our normal turnout,” he said.
Bassingthwaighte said this year’s Mountain Bike Cross Country had been a huge success with record numbers of cyclists competing.
“We had very good turnouts this year with more than 150 riders competing. In the past we normally started at about 14h00 but now we already had to start at 10h00 to split the events into various age groups to accommodate every one,” he said.
Bassingthwaighte said they did not have an overall sponsor for the whole series, although they did have individual sponsors for the separate legs of the series. Sunday’s National
Mountain Bike Cross Country Championships will be sponsored by Toshiba, while Maerua Mall Spar will sponsor the food.