Over 1500 riders set for world qualifiers in Naivasha

Participants in action during the first leg of the 2024 LOOP Gravel Safari Cycling Series in Tatu City, on February 4. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Over 1500 cyclists will battle in the third leg of the 2024 Loop Safari Gravel Race Series set for Hell’s Gate National Park in Naivasha on June 15.

The leg is precious for Kenya as it doubles as a qualifier for the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)World Gravel Series set for October in Italy.

Categories to be contested in Naivasha include the 20km, 60km and the 120km races that have already attracted local and international riders.

“Top 25 athletes in each group will book a berth to the worlds,” Amani Chief Operating Officer Hanifa Said underlined.

“This is a very important competition as it puts Kenya on the global map. The fact that the world cycling governing body UCI has granted the country a chance to host the qualifier shows how much cycling has grown and expanded in this country. I think Kenya has massive talent, we only need platforms to showcase it."

One of the captains elated with the upcoming contest is Victor Dawa who will lead Nairobi-based club Gravel Riders.

Dawa’s charges are already training hard for the coming championship. Their target is to hit two birds with one stone- get a podium finish and a UCI qualification.

“We have chosen six cyclists for the races, four men and two ladies. Those selected have already been tested, we feel they have what it takes to perform in the competition, so we only need to provide them with necessary support in terms of better equipment to execute the job,” Dawa highlighted.

With the help of Kenya Cycling Federation, Dawa says they have been blessed with a UCI approved coach who is currently taking their riders into paces in preparation for the Hell’s Gate showdown.

“We train thrice a week, translating into 20 hours of off-road riding. This has helped us to be mentally focused and fit for the upcoming contest,” Dawa underscored.

When asked his opinion about the Loop Safari Gravel Race Series, Dawa stated: “This is a very challenging race because it's done on gravel. Since this is the inaugural edition in Kenya, many are still trying to understand the series better including the kind of equipment needed for the races.”

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