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SA quartet in World Championships track action
- Updated: March 27, 2015
All four of South Africa’s cyclists saw action on day one of the UCI Para-Cycling Track World Championships in the small town of Apeldoorn, Netherlands on Thursday, writes Mark Etheridge.
This follows a great 2015 where three SA riders (Pieter du Preez, Ernst van Dyk and Justine Asher) were crowned world road champions.
Thursday saw the time trials being contested and two-time Paralympian Roxy Burns was first on track in the women’s C3 class, contested over 500 metres.
She ended fifth in a time of 45.509 sec after going through 250m mark in third place (15.973). Earlier in the week, the Stellenbosch-based cyclist learned that she had been reclassified from C4 to C3. She suffers from a condition known as ataxia telangiectasia.
‘The positive: more competitive. Negative: condition worsening. But all in all feel more positive,’ said Burns of her re-classification, while also acknowledging that there’s lots more work to be done in the year ahead.
Said team manager Mike Burns: ‘Roxy, who took a break from cycling in 2014 to finish her university studies, was reasonably happy with her performance – especially since she has been back in the saddle for only three months doing base (rather than specialised track) training. She is certain that a podium finish will be easily within her grasp later in the year and going into 2016.’
Next up was a rider at the opposite end of the spectrum in Craig Ridgard in the C2 class.
‘Craig has been doing track racing for only the past six months and he rode his time trial exactly to plan. Through the World Championships experience, his dual aims are to establish a foundation upon which to build his competitive track-racing profile over time and to enhance his sprint and general racing capabilities for the UCI Road World Cup series of races in which he will compete later in the year,’ said Burns. ‘Craig, who favours longer race distances, is certain to work his way up the ranking of finish positions in the rest of the championship programme, from his 18th place finish in today’s time trial.’
South Africa’s third rider was another newcomer in the shape of Juan Odendaal who has recently come up from the junior ranks.
‘He carried himself remarkably well in his first ever major international event. No finishing position targets for the World Championships have been set for Odendaal by the South African team’s management; rather, the aim is to have him set his own foundation from which to develop as an internationally competitive rider over the next decade. There is no better place to observe how the elite riders compete at the highest level – their race preparedness, tactics, equipment choice, etc. By finishing 16th in today’s time trial, Odendaal did his country proud by giving it his absolute all.’
Odendaal clocked 1: 24.774 for the one kilometre TT.
Last off was the experienced Dane Wilson in the C5 category, also raced over one kilometre. Wilson clocked 1:11.583. to place 11th in the final.
‘Exemplary in all facets of his race preparedness and execution of race strategy, Dane improved significantly on his recent African Continental Championship performance in the time trial. Competing for the first time in a new custom-design arm prosthetic, he achieved one of the fastest speeds for the race at mid-point.
‘His finish time was unfortunately a few seconds slower than his race target; however, with a rest day before his next events (in which he specialises) there will be good opportunity for him to deliver at his full potential,’ said Burns.
He went on to say: ‘Multiple objectives were considered in selecting the SA team to compete in these championships. Most important, was the focus on the development of the competitive potential of riders targeted for team selection for Rio 2016. A second objective was to introduce two riders, competing internationally on the track for the first time, to the fast learning experience that the World Championships offers. For some of the riders, a third objective was to reinforce their road-racing competitive potential through the development of sprinting capability that track cycling offers.’
Pictured above is the team taking part in Netherlands: From left to right: Juan Odendaal, Mike Burns (manager), Roxy Burns, Dane Wilson, Corne Bence and Craig Ridgard