Eighty of the nation’s top road cyclists took to the roads around Lusaka to battle for the title of Zambian national champion. On Sunday, riders competed in the individual time trial: a 25 kilometre race against the clock. On Monday’s public holiday, this past long weekend, riders completed a gruelling 120 kilometre road race from Sandy’s Creations in Lusaka to Kafue gorge and back.
In the women’s elite category, Anita Yama of Kansanshi Cycling Team took the win in both the road race and time trial. In the men’s elite category, Agoster Jilowa pulled off the same double win, getting his front tyre across the finish line of the road race just a few centimetres ahead of his teammates, Davies Kawemba and Michael Olokani.
The victory comes as the cherry on top of what has been a very successful season for Kansanshi Cycling Team, in spite of the interruptions to the racing season that were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was not an easy achievement,” said Agoster. “Over the past few years I’ve had to keep putting more and more effort into everything I do. Balancing my own training with coaching kids in schools around Solwezi, and also completing my personal trainer certification, has required a huge amount of work and discipline. Nothing comes easy.”
The men’s road race was a battle between Kansanshi Cycling Team and Lusaka’s Twin Palm Cycling Club. Aside from their dominance in numbers, Kansanshi’s master stroke was perhaps an early breakaway by their rider Bedias Tunkanya. This forced Twin Palm’s top riders to put in a huge effort, chasing Tunkanya down while the rest of the Kansanshi team were pulled along in their slipstream. By the time Tunkanya was caught, just outside the town of Kafue, Twin Palm’s riders had expended a huge amount of energy, and Kansanshi had the upper hand.
“Although Twin Palm are our rivals, I would also love to see them gain more support so they can be stronger and more organised,” continued Agoster. “What I want, even as the national champion, is to see the sport grow bigger, and all clubs succeeding.”
In the women’s field, a smaller turnout gave Anita Yama a clearer path to her titles. Her main challenger was- her Kansanshi teammate Rabecca Chiyuka.
“We certainly would have hoped for a higher women’s turnout today,” said Cycling Association of Zambia president Andrew Chibuye. “This is something that we, as CAZ, will put emphasis on over the next year. We want to ensure that the sport of cycling is equally accessible, safe, and beneficial to people irrespective of their gender.”
Both Anita and Agoster will wear special jerseys that identify them as national champions through the next year of racing.