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Top team takes on the men
- Updated: August 25, 2009
The Toyota Supercycling professional road cycling team riders haven’t set foot near a podium in the last few weeks, which would normally be a cause for concern; but not in this case.
The team, one of the top women’s outfits in South Africa, has decided to skip racing in the women’s category for a while in favour of competing in the tougher veteran men’s division. This is in order to prepare them for the Tour de Ardeche, a top international stage race in France from September 8ÔÇô12.
ÔÇ£It’s the best way to prepare for an overseas event, especially one of this caliber,ÔÇØ said Lynette Burger, the current South African women’s road race champion and captain of the Toyota Supercycling team.
ÔÇ£For the last month we have forfeited potential prize money and media exposure to race with the veteran men in order to up our level of conditioning. The racing with the men is of a higher intensity at all times, which is quite different from the local women’s racing, ÔÇØ added Burger.
ÔÇ£We are actually very fortunate that our sponsors also see the bigger picture and have been so supportive of our strategy. We don’t just want to race overseas and get horribly beaten. We want to contribute to the racing and be competitive.ÔÇØ
Burger says that the strategy has definitely worked.
ÔÇ£In the beginning we found it quite hard to race with the men. There are a number of former professionals and some really strong riders in the Veteran men’s division. But now we have found that we are at a level where we actually race aggressively and make the racing rather than just follow it. It’s undoubtedly made a difference which will surely pay off when we compete in France.ÔÇØ
The Tour de Ardeche is graded 2.2 by the International Cycling Union, the second-highest grading for a women’s stage race. It has attracted most of the world’s top teams and riders, many of whom will be using the event as part of their preparation for the upcoming World Championships, which take place in Switzerland next month.
The Toyota Supercycling team will also compete in a single-day international race on 5 September in France to help them become accustomed to the racing environment before tackling the Tour de Ardeche.