MTB riders shine in Switzerland 

Roger Suren and Delsia Janse van Vuuren. Photo: contributed

Namibia’s top mountain bike riders have been in great form at the Swiss Bike Cup series currently taking place in Switzerland. 

Competing at the fourth leg of the Swiss Bike Cup series in Leysin last weekend, Namibia’s top senior male rider Alex Miller and top juniors Roger Suren and Delsia Janse van Vuuren made their mark against  some of the top MTB riders in the world.

In the elite men’s category, Miller finished eighth overall in a time of one hour 26 minutes 48 seconds, which was five minutes eight seconds behind the winner, Timon Ruegg of Switzerland. Loan Cheneval of France came second, 52 seconds behind the winner, while Ursin Spescha of Switzerland came third, 1:15 behind the winner. 

Swiss riders dominated the race, taking six of the top ten places, while Germany took two, France one and Namibia one of the top ten places.

In the junior women’s category, Namibia’s Delsia Janse van Vuuren also finished eighth in 1:26:44, which was 14 minutes 20 seconds behind the winner, Muriel Furrer of Switzerland. 

Swiss riders once again dominated the junior women’s category, taking nine of the top 10 places, while only the 17-year-old Janse van Vuuren came from another nation. 

Namibia’s best performance, however, came from Roger Suren who came second in the junior men’s category to win the silver medal. Noel Toth from Switzerland won the race in 1:11:36, while the 17-year-old Suren came second, 51 seconds behind and Lewin Iten from Switzerland third, a further three seconds behind. Swiss riders once again dominated this category, taking nine of the top ten places. 

National cycling coach Hans du Toit, who is with the Namibian team in Switzerland, said the level of competition is extremely high. 

“Switzerland always have the best juniors in the world as a team, I think at the European Champioships the Swiss had four of the top six women and at least eight of the top 20, while amongst the men they had two athletes in the top ten,” he said.

“The guy who beat Roger in the junior men’s category, only came 13th at the European Championships, but he didn’t have a great race and he’s actually the eighth ranked rider in the world at the moment. He’s also a year older than Roger – it’s only Roger’s first year in the junior category, so that was a great performance,” he added. 

Du Toit said the Namibians are gaining invaluable experience.

“It was a great experience for them to race on a track at that level and absolutely the reason why we are here, to get them exposed to that sort of racing. Alex had a good field against him and he is still adjusting from his marathon season to his cross-country season so it will take some time before he gets all the leg speed back and competing at the top level where we want him to be for the Olympics,” he said.

“I think for Delsia it was her first experience of racing outside Africa, it’s the first time that she really had strong competition and its something that she has to get used to. I think she handled it pretty well and from here on we can just move forward – she also showed the potential that I know she has and she has the ability to finish races on a high level,” he said. 

“For Roger, it’s actually the second or third year that he is racing in Europe, so he’s used to this level, but this is only his first year as a junior, so there are some riders who have had the experience of just that next step-up of pressure and racing which he will have to get used to now,” he added. 

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