By Hedwig Kröner in Varese
Namibian cyclist Dan Craven came in 51st of a total of 57 riders competing in the time trial even at the UCI World Championships time trial Varese on Thursday. This was far from being a satisfying result for Craven, who finished 5'39 minutes behind the winner, Bert Grabsch of Germany. "I was passed by my four-minute man, so that's no good," he said as he came back to the team tents after the finish. "But this was my first time trial since last year's worlds, so I wasn't expecting any wonders."
Craven, who races at amateur level for Swiss Team FidiBC.com, based just 50 kilometres from Varese, has nevertheless had some good results as well as a victory this season and is hoping to turn professional in 2009. "It's a lovely team to develop, but now it's time to move on," he said. "I'm currently hoping for a pro contract. There is a tiny possibility in a European professional team - but it's taking its time and I'm starting to get a little bit uncomfortable. I'm 25, in my last year as an amateur, so I've got to turn pro or look for something else to do."
In this light, his result at the worlds may not help his cause, but Craven only prepared for the race in the last couple of weeks. "I was hoping to do a little bit better today to do give it a little bit of a boost, but if my four-minute man catches me, that's not a very good sign."
Asked what it was like to race against the best in the world while knowing that he wasn't in contention for a top placing, he said, "It's kind of weird for me, as an African, to come here full of awe for all these pros - but then again, they're only human. So you're afraid, you're nervous, but you just take up you opportunity and do what you can. It's nerve-wrecking, but it's fun!"
Nevertheless, Craven had some riders on the radar which he measured up with. "Maciej Bodnar from Poland [36th at 4'01 minutes - ed.], who rides for Liquigas, was in my team in 2006, so I know him as we're friends. Of course, I would have loved to beat him, but he's been riding for Liquigas the whole year - I didn't expect to beat him, really... It's a pity that there were no South Africans in the time trial, as I would have loved to to gage myself against them."