Cycling Federation of Malawi (CFM) has challenged cyclists to this yearâ€™s Presidential Cycling Championships in Mzuzu on Saturday to better the 3:22 hours in the menâ€™s 150-kilometre race and the 2:40 hours in the womenâ€™s 100-kilometre contest.
CFM general secretary Jimmy Kadewere said Tuesday that each cyclist who qualifies will represent the country at international competitions and will get an extra K5 000 (about $20) on top of the normal prizes.
He said although cyclists will not participate at this yearâ€™s Olympics in London due to their failure to take part in the qualifiers in Rwanda, the local athletes still need to improve on time in the Presidential race which will stretch from Katoto in Mzuzu to Chintheche in Nkhata Bay.
“We want the local cyclists to adhere to the recommended finishing time at international competitions. Internationally, a cyclist is challenged to complete 140 kilometres within three hours, but since the Presidential race will cover a 150-kilometre stretch, we have adjusted the time to 3:22 hours,” he said.
While appreciating CFMâ€™s effort to encourage athletes to improve on their finishing time, menâ€™s defending champion Leonard Tsoyo and runner-up Missi Kathumba have argued that it would be hard for most of them to achieve that target because of the bad condition of their bicycles.
Tsoyo, who is looking for a third successive Presidential title, said: “Had it been that we are provided with standard bikes, we would not have difficulties to achieve that feat, but most of us use personal bikes that are not in good shape.”
Kathumba was the inaugural champion in the elite bike category in 2009 before Tsoyo dominated the last two events.