Nedbank Namibia’s continued contribution to the development of Namibian cycling has given birth to a number of rising stars who have recently represented the country in numerous cycling events, both locally and internationally.
One such stellar local event, which is hosted on an annual basis, is the Nedbank Desert Dash. The Nedbank Desert Dash 2021 winner, Namibian cyclist Tristan de Lange, says the Nedbank Desert Dash is an event that has brought a lot of benefits to cycling in Namibia and continues to generate global attention.
The Namibian Olympian and Commonwealth Games representative, said apart from cycling, the Nedbank Desert Dash has also contributed to various Namibia charities, as well as raised interest in the sports of mountain bike cycling as part of a healthy lifestyle. “The event does an amazing job with that. To have Nedbank backing the event contributes to the success of the Desert Dash, and the Namibian cycling community is certainly grateful for this,” he said.
De Lange added that despite winning his first solo event in the men’s category at the 2021 Nedbank Desert Dash, he will not be defending his title at this year’s race. “Unfortunately, I am not going to ride in the Nedbank Desert Dash solo category this year. The win last year meant the world to me and my family, however, it did cost me the first quarter of the year because it left me stranded with Iliotibial Band (ITB) syndrome, and thus I was unable to train effectively during that period,” De Lange said.
He stated that he has set up personal goals for the 2023 season, and so cannot afford the risk of riding the solo race again, therefore, he will simply be enjoying the Nedbank Desert Dash this year by competing in a team as part of his training block for 2023.
Namibia Cycling Federation, President Axel Theissen, echoed De Lange’s sentiments, stating that Nedbank Namibia has indeed been one of the biggest supporters of Namibian Cycling over the years. “The Nedbank Desert Dash has grown to be one of the most internationally recognized MTB events in the World – as you most likely know, each year, around half of the participants of the Dash are generally non-Namibian riders,” he said.
Apart from Namibian riders who competed in the 2021 Nedbank Desert Dash, countries such as Portugal, the United States of America, Germany, South Africa, Switzerland, Netherlands, Britain, France, Ireland, Belgium, and Botswana, also had cyclists who enjoyed the 24-hour race from Windhoek to Swakopmund.
Theissen added that the unique nature of the Nedbank Desert Dash’s 24 hours ride across the oldest desert in the world, contributes to this accolade, and finishing the race at the Atlantic Ocean in Swakopmund remains special year after year.
The Namibian Cycling Federation president stated that the investment made by Nedbank has helped Namibian cyclists gain confidence in international competitions. “Namibian cycling has (to my knowledge) been the only Namibian sports code that has participated in all the Olympics for the last 20 years. In 2021, we sent four cyclists to Tokyo 2020, who represented Namibia extremely well. In road cycling and MTB discipline, our athletes were featured on television regularly. Alex Miller was the star cyclist finishing the Men’s MTB race in 29th place,” he said adding that the local competitions sponsored by Nedbank enable riders to compete well at home as well as keep them ready for major competitions.
Nedbank Namibia’s Communications and PR Manager, Selma Kaulinge, restated Theissen’s sentiments and expanded further on the direct influence Nedbank Namibia’s contributions play in the development of cycling. “We have to agree that in recent events, we have seen cycling make front page news in the local media, with the recent being of our Namibian cyclists who represented the country remarkably, and even received podium finishes in some of the race categories at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. This tells us that Namibian cyclists have the capability to compete and win big on international stages. We are certain we will soon have a Namibian participating and possibly winning coveted cycling events like the Tour de France, and the Olympics,” Kaulinge shared.
“The 2022 edition of the Nedbank Desert Dash will take place on 09-10 December 2022, and even though our 2021 winner not participating in the solo men’s category to defend his title, we are optimistic a Namibian cyclist will make the nation proud by one again winning top honours at this year’s edition of the Nedbank Desert Dash,” Kaulinge concluded.