Namibia underlined its position as the second best mountain bike country on the African continent when a team of seven cyclists won three silver medals at the African MB Championships in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
Marc Bassingthwaighte came second in the Elite Men’s category, Vera Adrian came second in the Junior Women’s category and Herbert Peters came second in the Under 14 boys category.
Besides South Africa, who dominated the championships, cyclists from Mauritius, Zimbabwe and Rwanda also competed at the continental championships.
The competition was scheduled unusually early this year, as the South Africans wanted to give their riders the opportunity to gain valuable points for upcoming races. Mountain bike riders are seeded according to UCI (International Cycling Federation) rankings.
In the Elite Men’s category, no one could keep up with the gruelling pace of South Africa’s Burry Stander, who is also the current world Under 23 champion. Stander went on to win the seven-lap race in a time of 1:42:08, finishing exactly six minutes ahead of Namibia’s Bassingthwaighte (1:48:08), while another South African, Philip Buys came third in 1:50:31.
Veteran Namibian cyclist Mannie Heymans showed that at the age of 39 years, he is still amongst the top cyclists in Africa, after finishing sixth overall in 2:01:06.
In the junior women’s category, Namibia’s Vera Adrian had to fight it out against nine South African riders. Since she did not have a favourable starting position, she had to work her way up from the back of the field but put in a great performance to eventually finish second, 2:10 behind the winner, Ashleigh Parker-Moffat of South Africa. Parker Moffat won the three-lap event in 1:01:43, followed by Adrian in 1:03:53.
The day started with the non-UCI category races (age groups), in which Namibia’s Herbert Peters came second in the U14 boys category. In the U16 boys category, Namibia’s Martin Freyer had to withdraw from the race due to a gear cable break.
Heletje van Staden, who won the African U23 female title in 2009, finished in fifth place in the Women’s Elite category. It was the first year that the 22-year-old Van Staden was competing in the elite category. Yolande Speedy of South Africa won the five-lap race in 1:31:59, followed by compatriots Samantha Sanders (1:44:08) and Yolandi du Toit (1:45:13), while Van Staden was fifth in 1:52:02.
Three Namibians competed in the Men’s U23 category, namely Heiko Redecker, Frank Adrian and Jan Hendrik Verdoes, but the latter two had to withdraw due to injuries. Redecker managed to complete the race in eighth position.
The complete results are attached.
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