Namibian Olympic cyclist Dan Craven has not set himself a certain goal for Saturday’s Cycling Road Race, saying that cycling was too difficult to predict.
“There are so many variables and unknowns in cycling, so it’s not easy to say how I will do. If I was a marathon runner I could say I’m aiming for a time of 2:10 or so, but with cycling there are so many factors that can influence your performance,” he said.
“It’s about doing the best that I can, but the tactics also have to be right. If there is a bunch sprint, I’ll have to be there,” he added.
Four years ago Namibian cyclist Erik Hoffmann came 22nd in the Road Race at the Beijing Olympic Games and Craven acknowledged that as a ‘phenomenal performance.’
“That was a phenomenal performance by Erik. I’m proud of what Erik did for Namibia, but these Games will be completely different. If I can match his performance I’ll be extremely happy, but it’s just about doing the best that I can,” he said.
Craven said he was extremely proud to have qualified for the Olympics and to be representing his country.
“Everyone in Europe knows how much I love Namibia. I’m extremely proud to be a Namibian and it’s amazing to be representing my country at the Olympics. For the rest of my life I’ll be an Olympian which is an achievement that no one can take away from me,” he said.
Craven already rode the course last year in the Olympic Test event when he did extremely well to finish 12th overall. That race was won by Britain’s Mark Cavendish, who will once again be the big favourite to win the race. Cavendish won three sprint stages on the recent Tour de France and with the Olympics course adapted to assist sprinters, it will suit him even better.
Craven said that the biggest hill climb on the course had been retarred, which would counter his natural advantage as a climber.
“They retarred the climb, so now the climb will be a lot faster and it will make it easier for the sprinters, but more difficult for me because I can expect a lot of attacks now,” Craven said.
Craven admitted that there was some pressure on him and that certain people had unrealistic expectations.
“I must say some people have put a lot of pressure on me with unrealistic expectations. I stressed a lot about it and did not sleep very well last month. Some people have ridiculous expectations but they don’t understand cycling and don’t know what they are talking about,” he said.
Craven’s American coach Marion Clignet said that Craven had their support.
“The most important thing for Dan is that he has the full support of the people who matter - the Namibian Olympic Committee, his family and myself,” she said.
“Dan is in the best shape that he can be, given the conditions that he had this year. He did really well in the RAS Tour in Ireland before his crash and he is in good shape,” she added.