In the Tour de France, all teams arrived yesterday for a lavish presentation at Le Herbiers in Paris and team invites were sent out ages ago. Things are a little different in Namibia - cyclists can show up on Saturday morning unannounced, fill in a few forms and be racing in the time trial due to take place at 09.00 the same day. In fact, with less than 24 hours to go, organisers still don't know who'll be taking part. "We are hoping that this year we will come close to sixty entries," says Namibian Cycling Federation spokesman Rolf Adrian, but it's evident that nobody really knows. "There is a big chance than Dan will come because there are some points up for grabs for him to be able to qualify for the World Championships. If he manages to come and race then he will definitely be the favourite," he adds, referring to the ex-African Cycling Championships winner Dan Craven. Compare this to the British championships which took place last weekend - team rosters were completed and announced well before the race. How about if it had still been unclear whether Bradley Wiggins was going to show up a day before the race?
Despite the characteristically African approach to organisation, cycling appears to be in a healthy and vibrant condition in Namibia which is a fairly wealthy country by African standards but, with a GDP of $6,952 per capita (UK: $34,920, France: $34,077, Germany: $36,033, USA: $47,123) is extremely poor when compared to the First World. Junior champions Vera Adriana and Till Drobisch have each qualified for the Commonwealth Games in the Isle of Man and will in all likelihood be looking to use the Nationals as a practice race for those. Rolf Adrian seems confident that Adriana will take part, but says organisers won't know for certain about Drobisch until sometime on Friday.
The main road race starts at 08.00 on Sunday and, as organisers have reduced the length of the route to 136km in an attempt to attract more entries, it should be a fun event. We'll be trying to track down and publish further details while the cycling press are distracted by the Tour.