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Esterhuizen excels

By Mark Etheridge

Our top track cyclist, young Bernard Esterhuizen had a great weekend’s racing in France, surprising many a seasoned international at the Fenioux France Trophy in Lyon.

It was the second round of the trophy and Esterhuizen ended up second in the men’s event behind Charlie Conord and ahead of Michael Bourgain.

Esterhuizen, who won the 1km time trial at last year’s World Junior Championships in Italy, made all the pace in the 200-metre time trial with a superb time of 10.471 seconds. He was followed by the French national team duo of Conord and Bourgain who had times of 10.550 and 10.554 respectively.

Significantly, Esterhuizen was ahead of world sprint champion Gregory Bauge (fourth in 10.565sec).

In the sprint Conord took honors from Esterhuizen and Bourgain. Bourgain went on to win the Keirin from Concord with Esterhuizen third.

Originally from Durban but now based in Aigle, Switzerland, Esterhuizen told Road to London 2012: “I qualified fastest on the outdoor (333m track), out-qualifying Bourgain, Bauge, Kevin Sirau and the rest of the French riders. In the sprint final I lost on the line to Conord. In the Keirin I won the semi-final by 5m against Bauge. In the final I went a bit to fast and got caught on the line by Bourgain and Conord, still not bad!

On Tuesday, Esterhuizen was still glowing at his achievements. “It was an awesome experience to be the fastest against such big names. It’s the first time in a long time that I actually enjoyed match sprinting. Out qualifying the best was a great feeling and I now know that I can probably do it again on a bigger stage with six more months of hard training.”

So what’s next for the 18-year-old star? “The next competition is another French race and then in Germany. Then maybe some more smaller races and then the World Cups.”


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