NAMIBIAN mountain biker Marc Bassingthwaighte is in the form of his life and raring to go in the men’s mountain bike race at the Olympic Games on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Bassingthwaighte took a practice ride on the course, which is situated on Hadleigh Farm in the Essex countryside, and offers some fantastic terrain for mountain biking, with gradients measuring 70 metres from top to bottom.
Bassingthwaighte said it was a very technical course which would suit his riding style.
“The course is very technical and there are a lot of rocks, but that won’t be difficult for me, because riding on rocks is one of my strong points,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful course up on a hill with some beautiful views of the Thames River in the distance,” he added.
Bassingthwaighte said he was physically and mentally ready for the race.
“I’m really looking forward to this race. I’ve worked very hard with my coach this year and I’ve never been in better shape in my life. So it’s now or never,” he said.
Bassingthwaighte said he would aim for a top-30 finish. “It’s going to be tough because the 50 best riders in the world will be here, but I think a top-30 place is possible,” he said.
Mannie Heymans, who has accompanied Bassingthwaighte as his manager, said he was ready for the race.
“Marc is focused and really in good shape. He is physically in the best form that I have ever seen him. I raced him at the Namibian National Championships in July and was impressed with the improvement that he has made.
“But then again, all the other nations have also improved so the challenge will be immense,” he said.
Heymans said all the talk of winning medals was unrealistic.
“It takes a lot of hard work just to qualify for the Olympics and all this talk of medals, medals, medals is driving me through the roof. We must be happy that Marc is here, competing against the best riders in the world,” he said.
Heymans has represented Namibia in mountain biking at three Olympic Games, including Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, with his best performance coming in Sydney where he came 26th.
He said he would be happy if Bassingthwaighte could beat that mark. “I will be the first one to congratulate him if he can beat my mark,” he said.
Meanwhile, Heymans said he was very sorry for Dan Craven who crashed out of the Cycling Road Race on July 28.
“I feel very sorry for Dan Craven. He should have had a helper in the support vehicle that could have helped him back into the race, but he did not have one,” he said.
Craven had to share a support vehicle with riders from other countries and did not have a helper in the car. When he went down in a crash there was no one to support him and help him back into the race.