Over 1500 Riders Set For World Qualifiers In Naivasha

Club captains during their cocktail meeting in Nairobi on Wednesday night ahead of the third leg of the 2024 Loop Safari Gravel Race Series slated for Hell’s Gate, Naivasha on June 15. PHOTO/ LOOP

NAIROBI- Kenya- 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, 2024.

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.

From Left: Loop DFC Chief Operating Officer Gloria Akinyi, Amani Project Chief Operating Officer Hanifa Said and Kenya Cycling Federation representative Kelvin engage in a chat during the captains cocktail in Nairobi on Wednesday night. PHOTO/ LOOP

“Top 25 athletes in each group will book a berth to the worlds,” Amani Project Chief Operating Officer Hanifa Said stated during the captains cocktail held in Nairobi on Wednesday night.

“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,” Said underlined.

One of the captains elated with the upcoming contest is Victor Dawa who will skipper the Gravel Riders Club based in Tena Estate, Umoja, Nairobi.

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.

Jordan Schleck Ssekanwagi Winner 120KM of Loop Safari Gravel Series at Tatu City. Feb 4, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“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 its 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.”

Dawa’s sentiments were echoed by Stephen Ndege who will captain team RDX in the Naivasha showpiece.

Participants in action in the first leg of the 2024 LOOP Gravel Safari Cycling Series held in Tatu City, Ruiru on Sunday. PHOTO/ JONAH ONYANGO

Team RDX have entered 20 prolific riders in the competition with hope of qualifying at least five cyclists to the worlds.

Gloria Akinyi, Chief Operating Officer at Loop DFC said the upcoming race is a great pride for the country as it will market Kenya as a top sports and tourism destination.

First leg of the 2024 Loop Safari Gravel Race Series was held at Tatu City in Ruiru while the second edition was staged in Iten. Fourth leg will be held at the pristine Vipingo Ridge in Kilifi in September.

Loop Safari Gravel Race Series Hell’s Gate categories

-120 Km

-60 Km

-20 Km

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