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Double gold for Du Preez as Van Dyk prepares for new cycle
- Updated: August 4, 2015
By Mark Etheridge
While Pieter du Preez is bursting with pride after his double title at last week’s UCI para-cycling road world championships in Nottwil, Switzerland, fellow Paralympian Ernst van Dyk is left champing at the bit.
Du Preez won gold in the H1 category for both the time trial and road events. Van Dyk won bronze in the time trial but then a mechanical problem put paid to his road race hopes.
A surprise visit by his wife before the start of the road event provided extra incentive for Du Preez. He told Road to Rio 2016: ‘My wife Illse, had to work so initially couldn’t make this trip but then someone very kindly bought her tickets and she was able to seem me clinch that double gold so that obviously gave me a bit of an extra push as I had to perform.
‘She’s a big part of my success as training is such a team effort.’
Speaking of his road effort, Du Preez said he had always known it was going to be tough. ‘From the start a Swiss guy made almost 150m on me but I think maybe he was a bit over excited and I reeled him in before the big climb.
‘Then I got into a rhythm. I knew he was close but on the top of the hill I had a 13sec gap but it was still close. On the downhill I took a bit of a risk around the corners and then I was on my own and then it turned into a perfect race. To beat the world’s best by more than seven minutes is just insane, incredible but I worked so hard for this.
‘To win both jerseys hasn’t really sunk in yet but it’s just a huge honour. I’m an extremely proud South African so to be on the podium twice, singing the national anthem is a special feeling.’
Also for South Africa to finish fifth on the medals table is huge, I think the best we’ve done to date. And I have to say it was great being part of that team. Everyone did a great job of supporting each other.’
Meanwhile Van Dyk rued the fact that he was racing on an old bike that eventually gave up the ghost. He had been holding back in the hope for some national funding to help the financial cost.
‘I should have had a new bike some time ago but was holding back in the hope that I would get it paid through national funding and when it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, I paid for it myself. But it was too late to get it finished before these world champs.’
And his current bike is exactly that… finished! ‘I had it welded the week before we left but its also soft now and flexing a bit so when I made an attack on the steepest climb I must have flexed the fork and the chain couldn’t stay on the chain rings and dropped and got jammed.
‘Anyway, hopefully I’l have the new bike up and running before the Pietermaritzburg World Cup but it will be a close shave! I tried hard to race back to the group on the 3.5 kilometre climb but it was hot and I wasn’t feeling great. I knew I had to catch them before the long descent otherwise I’d never see them again. Maybe I tried too hard and blew up before I could reach them.
‘Given my TT result I was ready for a good race but anyway, upwards and onwards.’