local women cyclists are expected to put up a competitive performance in the upcoming Nedbank national time trial and road race championships this weekend, in their quest for placement in the Olympic Games later this year.
Talking to The Namibian Sport recently, Namibia Cycling Federation (NCF) president Axel Theissen said this event is very important for local women cyclists, serving as qualification for the Olympic Games scheduled from 25 July to 11 August in Paris, France.
Theissen expressed satisfaction with the number of entries, saying they never received so many entries for past cycling events. He further said that 2024 is not just important because of the Olympic Games, but equally important for the All Africa Games (AAG).
A media statement by Nedbank Namibia noted that the national time trial and road race championship, the 2024 Nedbank national Individual time trial (ITT) and the national road race championships, take place today and Sunday, respectively.
The event has attracted a total of 180 cyclists. Both the ITT and road races will take place along the new road to Rehoboth because the road is ideal for both the start and finish area.
Theissen said: “These are some of the most crucial road races on the Namibian calendar, as they form part of the Olympic and AAG qualifying events.” “All security measures have been planned (as far as possible), the city police are involved. Our commissaries will also ensure that the races are held in terms of the Union Cycliste Internationale rules and regulations,” said the NCF president.
The ITT race will feature elite women and men, both men and women under-23, under-16 boys and girls, under-14 boys, junior men and women, sub-veterans, veterans, masters and grand masters.
Elite cyclists and under-23 men will cycle 36km, while the elite and under-23 women will cycle 27km. The junior men, sub – veteran men and ladies, veteran men and ladies, master men and ladies, grand master men and ladies, u16 boys and girls, and u14 boys will cycle 18km, while the u12 boys, u14 girls, u10 boys, u12 girls, and u10 girls will cycle 9km.
The Nedbank national road race championships will start on the A1 Road under the bridge to the B1 road on the way to Rehoboth. The race will be used as a selection race for Namibia’s Paris 2024 Olympic representation.
Nedbank Namibia communication and public relations manager Selma Kaulinge said: “It feels good to be back again for the first national cycling race of the year. These are impeccable races organised by the NCF, and we are excited to see our cyclists make Namibian history once again. Nedbank Namibia’s contributions to cycling in Namibia remains unparalleled, as we have consistently invested in the cycling fraternity since the inception of the oldest cycling event, the Nedbank Cycle Challenge in 1986,” Kaulinge said.
Defending champion Drikus Coetzee, earlier said that he was looking forward to this year’s edition and winning the race again.
“The ITT is my go-to race as it allows me to race freely. I am looking forward to winning the race again, as it is my strongest cycling race. Last year, the competition was high, and I expect nothing less this year,” he said.
Both elite men and women are expected to battle it out for the national titles during the races. The male and female categories, besides the elite group, include u23s, sub-veteran, veteran, master and grand master categories, as well as the junior group categories from u10 level and up. The distances for the road race range from 14km for the u10s, to 150km for the most experienced riders.
The prize-giving ceremony takes place on Sunday at the Nedbank Namibia campus Sky Garden.
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