One of Namibia’s longest running mass-participation sporting events, the Paratus Namibian Cycle Classic takes place for the 25th consecutive year this weekend.
Since its launch in 1999 the event has continued through thick and thin, even during the covid years, and now having reached the quarter-century mark it’s firmly back on track.
The head of logistics and marketing at The Namibian, Elrich Tilling, said they expected more than 1 000 entries for the mountain bike race on Saturday and road race on Sunday.
“By Tuesday we already had about 680 online entries, which is definitely more than last year at this stage. Normally there are also a lot of late entries so I’m confident that we will break the 1 000 mark,” he said.
Both the MTB and road race events will start and finish at the Hage Geingob National Rugby Stadium in Olympia, while cyclists can enter various categories over 50km, 30km and 15km for the MTB race,starting at 07h00 on Saturday, and over 100km, 60km and 30km for the road race, starting at 07h00 on Sunday. As usual, there will also be a Kiddies Classic starting at 08h00 on Sunday.
All cyclists must collect their race numbers and timing chips at the stadium between 16h00 and 19h00 tomorrow for the MTB race, and between 12h00 and 14h00 on Saturday for the road race, while late entries will also be allowed during these time slots at N$350 per cyclist.
Paratus Namibia came on board as the main sponsor last year and its managing director Andrew Hall said on their Facebook page that they were pleased with the partnership.
“Paratus shares the vision with The Namibian and the Windhoek Rotary Club to promote cycling as a fun, healthy and environmentally friendly sport, and it’s also an opportunity for us to give back to the community,” he said.
“Our partnership has definitely gone beyond expectations – I think the turnout last year was very good and we signed a three-year agreement with the Rotary Club so we are even looking forward to the next one,” he added.
The route for this year’s MTB event has changed from previous years, as it will not be mainly on Farm Windhoek, as race organiser Mannie Heymans explained.
“We won’t do everything on the farm because this is a family affair, so the route will mainly be south of Windhoek, which is not as technical and as hilly. The longer route, which is now over 45km and not 50km will also go to Farm Windhoek where there will be some big climbs,” he said.
Sunday’s road race will also serve as a seeding event for the popular Cape Town Cycle Race, Heymans added.
“Before Covid, the Cape Town Cycle Tour was a very popular event and sold out with more than 35 000 participants and seeding is always a big problem. If you are a newbie you’ll be seeded at the back so you will start at 11h00 or 12h00 when the professionals are already done. But with the Namibian Paratus Classic 100km road race having seeding status, cyclists will be able to improve their starting positions for the Cape Town Cycle Tour,” he said.
Prizemoney amounting to about N$220 000 in total will be on offer with the top male and female riders in the MTB and Road Race categories due to be handsomely rewarded.
The top three male and female riders in both the MTB and road race events will receive N$2 000, N$1 500 and N$800 respectively, while there will also be prizes for the overall male and female combined champions of N$6 000, N$4 000 and N$2 000 respectively.
Amongst the men, Namibian professional rider Alex Miller will be a strong contender in both events, but he can expect stiff competition from riders like last year’s road race winner Ingram Cuff, Drikus Coetzee, Jean Paul Burger and top junior riders Kevin Lowe and Daniel Hahn.
Amongst the women, last year’s champions Melissa Hinz (road race) and Genevieve Weber (MTB) can expect tough competition from the likes of Michelle Doman, Courtney Liebenberg, Risa Dreyer, Nicola Fester, Monique du Plessis and Olivia Shililifa.
But, as usual, the focus will be on mass participation and a family event as Tilling explained.
“There will be lots of activities at the Hage Geingob Rugby Stadium with vendors selling food and drinks; we will have lots of stalls, including bike shops exhibiting their wares; and there will be live music as well as entertainment and a jumping castle for the kids,” he said.
Both events will be covered live on various platforms of The Namibian, with livestreaming on its Facebook page and live commentary on Desert Radio.
Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –