… Ernest Mazabuka scoops 50km tussle
By JOHN CHOLA
Solwezi town once again came alive as it played host to the prestigious First Quantum Minerals (FQM) Kansanshi Cycling Weekend on September 10 and 11.
The Kansanshi Cycling Weekend which has become an annual enthralling event for over 10 years, this time around drew close to 300 riders and 60 trail runners from the age of two to over 60 years.
Since the mining giant KMP birthed the idea that has so far moulded some of the continent’s tenacious riders flying the Zambian flag high at regional, continental and global stages, the episode has displayed top talent.
Tournament Coordinator Ryan Ellis has described this year’s tournament as a successful show characterized by mountain bike race in the categories covering distances such as 50, 25, 12 and seven kilometres.
Ellis described this year’s route, taking off at the FQM’s Trident College grounds, as one of the more technically challenging on Zambia’s mountain biking circuit.
“It is often an event where the celebrated Kansanshi Cycling Team identifies new talent, and some of our riders have been recruited after impressive performances here,” Ellis explains.
Ellis says this year’s mountain bike race had some of the highest participation numbers of any race on the international cycling calendar, and attracted the top riders from around the country. As such, winning it was a major point of pride for any rider.
This year’s tournament saw 21 tots of ages ranging from two successfully complete in the 1.7 kilometres while the three kilometres race had seven kiddies battling it out.
In the women’s race, Christine Coppinger of Jivundu took the win ahead of Solwezi’s Kirstin McDonald.
Kalumbila Mine General Manager Sean Egner took part in the 50km race, finishing at 15th.
The Kansanshi Cycling Team gives opportunity to young people of Solwezi who have a passion for the sport, but do not necessarily have the means to access it.
“Currently, the programme provides coached cycling sessions to over 100 kids at various schools around Solwezi on any given weekday. The best performers in the school cycling programmes are given the opportunity to ride for the team as professionals, in which case they also receive sponsored education, fantastic job opportunities, and prospect of earning a spot on any European or South African team,” Ellis explains.
Bell Equipment Company Zambia Limited, as previously, was once again one of the top sponsorship partner of the 2021 Kansanshi Cycling Weekend.
Bell Service Manager Tyrone Coetzee who presented prizes to winners of various race categories of the Saturday races described this year’s tournament as successful, worth sponsoring and a healthy sport enjoyed by families too.
“This year’s event is going on very well. Everybody in the greater Solwezi has had enough of the Covid-19 sitting at homes without joining our friends and families and this one has once again been the opportunity to get together, get out enjoy the sunshine, the valley and sit together as a community. We will continue supporting it,” Coetzee said.