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Heunis and Papo dominate first event in MTB Challenge series

Heunis and Papo dominate first event in MTB Challenge series

Two leading national mountainbike riders, Jeanne Heunis and Xavier Papo vividly demonstrated their dominance on the last day of March when the first race in the 2018 Gravel & Dirt MTB Marathon series was held in Swakopmund.

The West Coat MTB Challenge drew an unprecedented 320 riders, a clear indication of how the sport’s popularity has exploded over the past decade.

Papo bagged the Elite Men’s title in a time of 2:42:58, seven minutes ahead of Danzel de Koe and nine minutes later, Ruan van Staden crossed the finish line. In the final sprint on the last straight, Papo was challenged by two riders in other categories, Fanie Steenkamp, a veteran rider and Ingram Cuff in the sub veteran category.

Steenkam won the Veteran Men’s category with Jacques Celliers and Clinton Hilfiker second and third. Cuff won the Sub Vet Men’s category.

Irene Steyn was the only woman to compete in the 75km Elite Women but she still booked a respectable time of 3:16:46. In the 35km Open Woman’s category, Anneke Steenkamp took the laurels, however the real action took place in the 35km Junior Women’s category with Cindy Rowland in the lead, chased hard by Marlynne Brandt and Eljanie Swart.

In the Sub Vet Woman, Jeanne Heunis rode an incredible time of 3:12:23, a full eleven minutes faster than her closest rivals, Luanne Van Der Schuff and Rosi Hennes in second and third, and four minutes faster than Steyn.

The full results are available at

Although the arduous track produced some incidents, no rider was seriously injured.

The West Coast MTB Challenge was sponsored by Hollard Insurance, Mannies Bike Mecca, Food Lovers Market, Pupkewitz Megabuild, West Coast FM, Spur Swakopmund, EPIEQ Sport Nutrition, Swakopmund Plaza Hotel, Cycles 4 U and Herco Marketing.

“An event of this scale cannot happen without the support of like-minded companies who understand the value of investing into the local Namibian MTB circuit, and the riders that represent it,” stated series sponsor, Hollard Insurance.

Caption, Jeanne Heunis (right) won the 75km Sub Vet Women’s category in the recent West Coast MTB Challenge in a time some four minutes faster than the winning time of Irene Steyn who won the Elite Women’s category. Here Heunis is accompanied by fellow rider, Alfons Kiesewetter. (Photograph courtesy of Fotografika)



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Sport Contributor

The Economist does not have a dedicated sport reporter. This designation is used for several contributors who want their sport stories in the Economist. Experience has taught us that companies usually want their sport sponsorships published prominently, being the reason for a sports category. It now also carries general sport items but only those with direct Namibian relevance. - Ed.