Angolan cyclists to ‘rock Namibia’

From left to right: Erlander António; Edivaldo Ferrão; Igor Silva; Mercello Albano and Fábio Andrade. Photo: Contributed

Angolan road cycling champion Igor Silva and his team will battle Namibian rivals at Tsumeb and farm Teufelsschlucht near Windhoek later this month.

Along with teammates Erlander António, Edivaldo Ferrão, Mercello Albano and Fábio Andrade, the decorated Silva will be in action at the Vivo Energy Sem Kasete Cycle Challenge on 19 August at Tsumeb and the Nedbank Windhoek Pedal Power race at Teufelsschlucht the following day.

The top Angolan team’s interest to ride across the border stemmed from hosting their neighbours in similar duels last year.

The visitors, who will arrive on 17 August, claim to be “ready to rock Namibia”.

“JT is the current leading team in Angola. This is an opportunity to test our strength against our neighbouring states. Angolans compete a lot in Europe, so we could learn a lot from them in terms of team dynamics,” says Namibian Cycling Federation executive member João da Costa.

The one year-old Sem Kasete Cycle Challenge is a Powerhouse Cycling Club outreach initiative to encourage cycling as a sport at previously disadvantaged communities.

It is held in honour of Coblenz Combined School’s former principal, Sem Kasete, a renowned disciplinarian who drove the ethos of hard work and excellence in sport and education.

The event is also tied to the Grootfontein school’s fundraising drive towards rehabilitating its campus and acquiring learning material.

Powerhouse cycling team members Ellis Mieze and Tileni Mongudhi believe the Angolans add value to their project and the domestic race circuit.

“We’re buzzing and excited to be hosting international cyclists to compete in this race. We started this race last year, and it is a sanctioned race by the Namibian Cycling Federation, which means international cyclists can take part,” Mieze told Desert Radio earlier this week.

Namibian elite cyclists Drikus Coetzee and Alex Miller have also shown interest in the race, he said.

“We’re quite excited to bring top cyclists and exposure to not only the community, but also to previously disadvantaged cyclists to see first-hand what professional cycling is all about,” Mieze said.

Mongudhi said the initiative has proven a success, with several promising youngsters discovered during the inaugural event.

“When Powerhouse Cycling Club started, it was really because we saw that we wanted to transition cycling from being seen as a mode of transport in those communities to it being a competitive sport, because we have a lot of talent and potential in the rural areas,” said Mongudhi.

“Many of these young people don’t have a fighting chance or exposure. We’ve never had races that focus on the rural communities, so we’re bringing cycling to them. We have covered Oshana, Omusati and Otjozondjupa, so next we hope to have Omaheke as we continue onwards to other regions.”

Hosting the debut event last year proved to be quite a challenge, but the organisers have a handle on things this time around, with a bigger and better event on the cards, Mieze said.

“A lot came from our own pockets. This year we got a sponsor in the might of Vivo Energy, which has come on board quite handsomely and has assisted us with a lot of logistics,” he said.

“Taking the lessons from last year, we’re in a better position to host a better event and are able to invite the likes of the Angolan team, and Drikus and Alex,” Mieze said.

“There’s also a bit more excitement because there’s prize money on offer now, which we didn’t have last year. We are most likely to increase our participation quite considerably. So, these are quite exciting times.”

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