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Coetzee claims another Nedbank title

DRIKUS Coetzee added the Nedbank Cycle Challenge title to his credentials in Windhoek yesterday, holding off Conny Looser of Switzerland to claim honours.

It was a second consecutive competitive win for Coetzee over his “good friend” Looser, after finishing the gruelling Nedbank Desert Dash in the same order in December.

“Generally, I felt super strong today, which is a good indication in a race. We had fun out there today, and it was an enjoyable race. That’s what it’s all about,” said Coetzee, after clocking two hours, 23 minutes and 11 seconds.

Looser was given the same time, with Ingram Cuff (02:31:00) holding off Xavier Papo (02:31:01) to take third place.

While he appears to have carried over his excellent form last year, Coetzee is not getting ahead of himself.

“I take this year as it comes. I don’t have a specific plan. I just want to keep racing and improving,” he said.

After a relatively “easy” start, Coetzee led the breakaway at Matchless Mine and attacked on the double slope of Daan Viljoen, with “six or eight guys” following suit.

The group got reduced to three riders soon after as Coetzee and Looser seized the initiative.

“We really pushed the pace at the top of Matchless, till we turned around to create that gap as big as possible, because we knew the bunch was going to come down faster than two guys,” Coetzee said.

“We pushed the pace down there, and when we turned left down to Daan Viljoen, we started putting the power down. Then, it was just me and Connie. We worked really well together until the end.”

Looser was courteous towards Coetzee and happy to get a good workout as he used the race to prepare for other challenges abroad.

“My legs were not so good today. I didn’t feel fresh enough. Drikus was doing most of the work,” Looser said.

“I think Drikus deserved this win today. It’s the first time he’s winning this race. It’s good for him, he’s a local rider, I’m happy for him. For me, big goals ahead. So, I’m building towards that.”

Risa Dreyer won the women’s 100km race in 03:00:53, with Belinda van Rhyn finishing second (03:01:45) and Nicola Fester (03:02:37) completing the podium.

Dreyer acknowledged that the absence of last year’s winner, Vera Looser, and other top cyclists Courtney Liebenberg, Melissa Hinz and Anri Krugel may have aided her route to victory.

The quartet are presently in Ghana competing in the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) Road African Championships.

“I’m very grateful. It was a tough race, even though most of the strong girls are in Ghana at the moment. It’s always challenging. There was quite a bit of wind on the way back. I managed to break away at the beginning, and stuck with it till the end,” said Dreyer.

She says she is looking forward to testing her mettle against the top riders when they return from their West African adventure.

“Next is the Tour de Windhoek coming up, and we’re riding for The Mannies team again, and I’ll be there to represent, so it gives us confidence for that,” Dreyer said.

“I’m always up there giving the challenge. I just didn’t make it to the team, but I have a small baby at home, and I can’t leave her right now, and that’s quite a challenge as well.”

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