De Lange, Raith win 2021 Nedbank XC challenge
Tristan de Lange and Gabriela Raith were on Saturday crowned Nedbank Cross-Country (XC) champions after impressive performance at the International Cycling Union (UCI) Namibia national championships in Windhoek.
The Nedbank National Mountain Bike Championships saw riders from as far as Zambia and South Africa competing at an event that saw them gain UCI ranking points. De Lange who last year missed out on a spot to represent Namibia at the Olympic Games which are scheduled for this year was in a class of his own after lap three of their seven-lap race.
The African Games XC champion started to create a gap between himself and the chasing pack after overtaking South African rider Keagan Bontekoning who led the second lap of the race.
After completion of lap four De Lange had created a lead of over 50 seconds and by the fifth lap he was a minute ahead of everyone. Exciting challenge were seen between the top four riders which had three South Africans challenging each other.
After seven laps of racing De Lange crossed the line with a gap of one minute and one second as he completed the race with a time of one hour, 28 minutes and 35 seconds (01:28:35) ahead of his South African teammate Daniel van der Walt who had a slight crash during lap four but dusted himself off to finish second (01:29:36), while Bontekoning was just 16 seconds behind in third (01:29:52).
Another South African, Johan van Zyl, who rides in the same team as De Lange came fourth while Namibian riders Hugo Hahn, Xavier Papo, and Heinrich Kohne finished fifth, sixth and seventh respectively over six minutes of De Lange’s finishing time.
Raith meanwhile, dominated the elite women’s category, winning the five-lap race in 1:29:12, with Marion Schonecke finishing second in 1:35:37 and Irene Steyn third in 1:36:51. Kai von During won the junior men’s category over six laps in 1:20:08, ahead of last year’s winner Bergran Jensen who registered 1:20:14 and Gunther Katzke in third spot.
Monique du Plessis retained the junior women’s category over four laps in 1:08:55 and South African rider Andrea Schoefmann finished the race 10 minutes behind her. In an interview with Nampa, De Lange said the race was very good and he kept it under control over the starting three laps. “I saw I had the advantage of being consistent over the first two laps, I then decided to keep it there and in the last lap I just maintained the gap, so if there was an error I would be
safe,” he said.