THE Namibia Cycling Federation has drawn up a list of 18 cyclists who will battle it out for five spots at the 2022 Commonwealth Games which take place in Birmingham, England from 28 July to 8 August.
The vice president of the Namibia Cycling Federation, Nick du Plessis, who is also the head of the NCF selection committee, said yesterday that they had drawn up a list of selection races which will form the basis of selection for the Namibian team for the Commonwealth Games.
Points will be awarded according to the cyclists' positions at the selection races, but Du Plessis added that cyclists can also submit requests for other international races to be considered to the NCF, by this coming Saturday, 15 January.
Cyclists will be considered for three disciplines at the Commonwealth Games, namely road race, time trial and mountain bike, while the selection races will consist of five road race and five mountain bike races.
The road races consist of the first two Windhoek Pedal Power races on 23 and 30 January, the Namibian National Road Race Championships on 6 February, the Nedbank Cycle Challenge on 13 February and the Cape Town Cycle Tour on 13 March.
"The selection committee will select a shortlist of riders based on their performances in the selection races leading up to the Cape Town Cycle Tour, while the NCF will also make a financial contribution to assist these riders for the Cape Town Tour," he said.
The mountain bike selection races consist of an international UCI cross country race and the African Cross Country Championships that Namibia will host at the beginning of April; the Namibia Marathon Championships on 6 March; and two legs of the South African Cup in the Free State on 26 February and Limpopo on 30 April.
"There will be a thorough selection process which will be results driven. We will have to consider all the categories and the women will have an equal chance, so I can't say how many men and women will go at this stage," he said.
The competition amongst both the men and women cyclists will be extremely tough with numerous top contenders in both categories.
Amongst the men, the top contenders include the reigning national road race champion Drikus Coetzee; the upcoming Hugo Hahn, who beat Coetzee at the Namibian Cycle Classic last year; Tristan de Lange, who represented Namibia at the Tokyo Olympics; and Alex Miller, who represented Namibia in the mountain bike event in Tokyo.
Veteran cyclist Dan Craven, who missed out on last year's Olympics after being struck by the coronavirus a few days before he was to leave, is once again back in the mix, while other contenders include Bergran Jensen, Brandon Plaatjies, Denzel de Koe, Gerhard Mans, Ingram Cuff, Johannes Hamunyela, Xavier Papo, and the African and national triathlon champion, JP Burger.
Du Plessis, however, added that Marc Pritzen and Martin Freyer, who were both on the original list, have since indicated that they will not be available for selection.
The Namibian-born Pritzen is the current South African road race champion and is pursuing his career there, while Freyer is unavailable due to work commitments.
The top contenders amongst the women are national road race champion Vera Adrian, who also represented Namibia at the Tokyo Olympics; Michelle Vorster, who represented Namibia in the MTB event in Tokyo; Courtney Liebenberg, Melissa Hinz and national junior champion, Monique du Plessis.
Vorster, who immigrated to New Zealand last year, will also come into consideration according to Du Plessis.
"We understand the financial implications of coming all the way to Namibia to compete in selection races, so if Michelle competes in New Zealand or Australia she will just have to inform us, so that we can take those races into consideration," he said.
"Vera (Adrian) will come down from Switzerland soon to compete on the South African circuit and she will also be available for some of the selection races in Namibia. But all of the women have been practising very hard and I think the competition will be very tough," he added.