Sports

Namibia Gears Up for African MTB Champs

Africa’s high mountain bike riders will battle it out for continental honours on the African Mountain Bike Championships which happen on the IJG Trails at Farm Windhoek on Saturday.

More than 100 cyclists from about 10 African international locations will compete within the Cross Country Olympic (XCO) self-discipline, within the Elite, u23 and Junior classes, below the auspices of the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) and the International Cycling Federation (UCI), whereas a number of different native junior classes will convey the whole variety of contributors to about 250.

To date, cyclists from South Africa, Mauritius, Tunisia, Kenya, Morocco, Lesotho and Botswana have confirmed their participation, however with entries nonetheless open, the NCF expects as much as 10 nations to compete.

In the Elite Men’s class, South Africa’s top-ranked rider, Alan Hatherly has confirmed his participation and can begin as a agency favorite.

He has dominated MTB racing in South Africa and Africa in recent times, having gained the SA championships from 2017 to 2021, and the African XCO Championships from 2017 to 2019.

In 2018 he gained the u23 title on the UCI XCO World Championships, in addition to the bronze medal on the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, and final yr he got here eighth on the Tokyo Olympic Games.

He is now ranked sixth on this planet and is at present in nice type, having gained the Cross Country Short Track race on the UCI MTB World Cup in Petropolis, Brazil two weeks in the past.

Hatherly can, nonetheless, anticipate robust competitors from a number of compatriots who’ve confirmed their participation.

They embody the present SA champion Arno du Toit, the previous champion Phillip Buys, and Mathys Beukes, who will all be battling it out to make the SA Commonwealth Games crew.

Namibia’s hopes will lie with Alex Miller within the Men’s u23 class, however he can anticipate robust competitors from Wessel Botha, who’s the present SA u23 and African u23 champion and his compatriot Luke Moir.

Miller, nonetheless, has been in nice type just lately, profitable a UCI race in Windhoek two weeks in the past, whereas he additionally excelled on the SA XCO Cup at Koedoeslaagte in South Africa on the finish of February. On that event he got here fourth total within the Elite class, behind Du Toit, Buys and their compatriot Matthew Beers, whereas he was the primary u23 rider, with Moir ending fifth and Botha sixth.

The 21-year-old Miller, who rides professionally for the Trek Vaude crew in Europe, is at present ranked eleventh on this planet amongst riders aged 21 and youthful.

Other Namibians who may make an influence within the u23 class embody Bergran Jensen, who got here fourth total on the UCI race in Windhoek two weeks in the past, and Hugo Hahn, though he’s a uncertain starter as he’s nonetheless recovering after breaking his collarbone throughout coaching.

Namibia’s Kevin Lowe and Daniel Hahn might be amongst the favourites within the Junior Men’s class after some excellent performances this yr.

At the SA XCO Cup at Koedoeslaagte in South Africa they dominated the junior class, with Hahn beating Lowe in a dash to the road, whereas the highest South African rider, Massimiliano Ambrosi completed greater than two minutes behind in third place.

Lowe, nonetheless, beat Hahn by 10 seconds on the UCI race two weeks in the past, and the 2 Namibians at the moment are ranked twenty fourth and twenty fifth within the UCI world junior rankings (for u19 riders), whereas they’re additionally the highest ranked 17-year-old riders on this planet.

The Elite Women’s race ought to see an awesome battle between South Africa’s Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss for high honours.