Cycling nationals prepare riders for Africa’s big stage
The Namibian National Cycling Championships were held this last weekend, with the Time Trial Champs on Friday and the Road Race Champs on Sunday. Team Kia Elite once again had a very strong performance at both races, which also secured Martin Freyer and Michael Pretorius a spot in the national team that will be departing on Sunday for the African Championships. Freyer and Pretorius form part of the Namibian national team that will compete at the African Championships, beginning on 9 February in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
Under the guidance of captain, Dan Craven, the pair hopes to continue their current form and make their mark among the continents best cyclists. Dan, who recently relocated with his team to Gerona, Spain for training purposes, has an extensive experience as a professional having won, amongst other races, the African road championships in 2008. In 2014 he also became the first Namibian to sign on with a World Tour team. KIA Elite riders Martin Freyer and Michael Pretorius excelled at the Namibian national championships last weekend. The pair clinched the first and second place in the U23 age division in the individual time trial and road race respectively. Coming off a strong win at the Dordabis race a fortnight ago, Freyer was in outstanding shape once again. He clocked in at 57:14 minutes during Friday’s 40 kilometre long time trail, less than half a minute behind the elite men and overall winner Gerhard Mans Jr (56:48). This performance earned the 19-year-old Freyer the third place in the overall standings, with Costa Seibeb (Team MBM) coming in second (57:00). Pretorius followed suit with a time of 1:00:59 hours, the second best U23 and fifth best overall time. Dan Craven, Namibia’s professional cyclist, who is riding for French outfit, Team Europcar, celebrated his 32 birthday by being crowned Namibian National Champion, finishing ahead of Freyer. The grandson of Danie Craven, a former South African rugby union player, Dan increased the pace on the second of three laps up the hills to Daan Viljoen. The other riders had a moment of indecisiveness on who should put in the effort for the group to catch back up to Craven and he used this effectively to open up a comfortable gap. Four riders, including Freyer, Pretorius, Seibeb and Fiffi Kashululu went chasing after the leader. Craven however proved too strong and gradually build up his lead, finishing four minutes ahead of Freyer and Pretorius. Meanwhile in other cycling news, on Thursday the Ambassador of Spain to Namibia, H. E. Mrs. Carmen Díez, organized a welcome reception at her residence to celebrate the participation of Namibian professional cyclist, Dan Craven in the ‘Vuelta Ciclista a España 2014’. Dan’s achievement represents a cornerstone in Namibian cycling since it is the first time a Namibian participated in one of the three grand cycling tours (Vuelta a España, Giro D’Italia and Tour de France).