SWAKOPMUND – One of Namibia’s foremost cyclists Drikus Coetzee and South Africa’s seasoned rider Yolande de Villiers were on Saturday crowned champions of the 2022 edition of the Nedbank Desert Dash.
The weekend’s event, which marked the 18th edition of one of Namibia’s premium cycling competitions, started on Friday in Windhoek and finished on Saturday morning at the coastal town of Swakopmund – with cyclists covering a distance of almost 400km.
But it was the indomitable Coetzee who rose to the occasion to win the men’s solo category in a time remarkable of 15 hours, 17 minutes and 9 seconds, beating veteran Swiss rider Konny Looser, who claimed second position with his time of 15 hours, 38 minutes and 53 seconds. Rick Steffen clocked 15 hours, 45 minutes and three seconds to take third place.
Speaking to New Era Sport after his win, an overjoyed excited Coetzee said it was a tough race and the terrains were very challenging especially when approaching the 40km mark to the finish line.
He, however, expressed great satisfaction with the win and with how he kept to his game plan from start and finish.
“It was a tough ride, having to cycle all the way through those mountainous areas. It has to be one of my most challenging rides that I have ever taken on. The guys who were racing with me were not afraid as they continued to put a great fight throughout, which made me to even push myself harder,” said Coetzee.
“As we were approaching the finish line, the challenge started to become even more intense as all the riders were eyeing the first spot but that also ignited the fire in me. I kept telling myself that I can do it and I really did it. I am super proud. I am so motivated to work even harder and to ensure that I remain number one.”
Meanwhile, the women’s solo category was won by South Africa’s veteran cyclist De Villers, who claimed victory with her time of 17 hours, 50 minutes and 10 second. She was followed in second place by Courtney Liebenberg, who crossed the line in 19 hours, 1 minute and 42 seconds.
In third position was Belinda van Rhyn, who finished with a time of 19 hours 19 minutes and 44 seconds.
C said she was happy with her overall performance this time around, especially having missed out last year. She admitted that it was a tough race as all challengers were in top shape.
“It was a tough race and the conditions were extreme as the wind was blowing quite strongly. It made it a huge challenge at the beginning but as the race proceeded, everything went well as the race started to intensify. However, it was a great feeling to race here as I enjoyed it so much,” said a content Coetzee.
She added: “It was frustrating last year as I could not finish the event. So, I told myself that I would come back this year and finish the race and I am happy that I went for the win this time around.”