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SA para-cycling team in World Championships action

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By Mark Etheridge

The six-strong South African team roll into action on Thursday in day two of the UCI para-cycling world championships in Nottwil, Switzerland.
The opening ceremony and opening race was staged on Wednesday evening… Thursday will see three South Africans gunning for glory.
They are Goldy Fuchs, George Rex and Craig Ridgard. It’s time trialling action for the first two days of competition and the three South Africans will be contesting the T1, T2 and C2 divisions respectively.
Distances involved are 21 kilometres for Ridgard and 14km for Fuchs and Rex.
There won’t be any drama over the testing time trial on Thursday but Friday could see fun and games as the C3-5 and H3-5 categories tackle the big loop with a rather dangerous downhill.
‘It could be very dangerous,’ said coach Ricky Kulsen. ‘A Chinese hand biker crashed on Tuesday and completely destroyed the bike.’
Cycling SA Para-cycling Commission Director, Dr Mike Burns, is anticipating the possibility chance of South Africa achieving three World Champions this year. ‘We’ve got it in us to achieve that. A lot of work has been put in and the High Performance strategy is working for us. Based on the recent performances in Italy and Switzerland, we’ve definitely got what it takes. They looked strong against all the competitors that they raced against, which is pretty much the field that will be at the World Champs.’
Burns says that the World Cup course is not too technical and is pretty straightforward. ‘No-one is intimidated by the course. But is doesn’t lend itself to a rider who has great strength in climbing Craig Ridgard, who uses the climbs to his advantage. Each World Cup is an incredibly prestigious event and a podium finish is brilliant in its own right and goes a long way for the confidence of our riders.
The Swiss World Championship course will however, have lots of climbing. There is a slightly easier loop, which has been introduced for the less-able classes, whereas the more-able classes will be setting off on a tougher route, which features the steeper and longer climbs.
Thursday’s starting times are: Ridgard 9.11am, Fuchs 10.07am and Rex 10.22am.
The full team doing duty over the four days of competition is:
Ernst van Dyk (H5), Justine Asher (H2), Craig Ridgard (C2), Pieter du Preez (H1), George Rex (T1), Goldy Fuchs (T2)
Team Manager: JC van der Walt, National team Coach: Ricky Kulsen, National team mechanic: Pieter Jansen

In the picture of the SA team at the opening ceremony are flag bearer, Pablo de Pedro Garcia, a Spanish national who is the team’s official ‘go-to; man at the Championships with mechanic Pieter Jansen centre and coach Kulsen (with camera) far right


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