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Big SA team ready to roll at Road World Championships

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By Mark Etheridge

Despite a good few changes, the 15-strong South African team to do duty in Doha at the UCI Road World Championships early next month is expected to hold its own against the world’s best.
The original team named by Cycling South Africa shows three changes, two of them coming in the elite men’s category. Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg drops out after breaking his shoulder in a crash in Europe this week while Jaco Venter has pressing family issues to attend to.
They’re replaced by Under-23 rider Ryan Gibbons and Nicholas Dougall respectively.
The other change comes in the elite women’s category where Lise Olivier drops out after feeling that her form was sufficiently good to help the team on a flat course also unsuited to her formidable skills. She’s replaced by Carla Oberholzer.
CSA’s Road Cycling Commission Director, Bosseau Boshoff and one of the SA team’s managers, took some time to unpack the team heading for Qatar.
‘Ryan’s inclusion is a great opportunity for him. We had to get special permission from the UCI for him to ride as an elite as he’s still U23 but this is his last year as an U23 in any case.
‘We only qualified one slot for the U23 and Stefan de Bod was first choice. Then, about a week after the first team selection Ryan started getting some top 10 finishes on the European circuit so I’m actually quite excited to see what he can do. The racing is going to be interesting on a flat course like this and a lot will depend on the wind. I think it’s going to be hard to get going from the start and I think it might be more a case of a good few splits not necessarily a pure breakaway.’
On to the women and Boshoff is particularly excited about these World Championships. ‘It’s the biggest women’s team we’ve sent to worlds. Samantha Sanders  is in great form and Ashleigh Pasio has been on the podium virtually every week in Europe lately. I’m not sure how the circuit is going to suit her but she’s got so much experience and is so strong. Carla was fourth at SA Nationals and has been consistently aggressive and is very much a power-type rider.
‘On this type of course it’s the girls who enjoyer racing aggressively and can handle their bikes who will do well.’
Also in the team is young Zanele Tshoko, who was part of Team SA at the 2014 African Youth Games in Gaborone, Botswana. ‘She’s spent a couple of weeks at UCI headquarters in Switzerland which will have helped her immensely.’
The junior women’s team is made up of Nicolene Marais and Lynette Benson. ‘Both have also been to Europe and although they found it a bit tough, we have to give our next generation of riders a chance. They need to race against the best and judge how far they are off their goals.
‘The difference between local racing and European racing is huge. In South Africa we can see 30 women starting a race of whom four can win… in Europe you’ll get a field of 200 and 190 of them could win!’
Three junior men will be part of the team, Devon Short and Damean and Jason Oosthuizen (no relation). Boshoff is also keen to see how they’ll do. ‘We’ve got a lot of depth in this class. Devon comes with a good pedigree as his dad, Terence was a very good road rider in his day. Devon’s been SA champion since U16 level, a very classy rider who will probably go to Europe next year.
‘All these guys have been to Europe before, in fact they were selected after their good performances there and Jason is just a machine, finishing second amongst the elite riders at a recent race in Johannesburg.’

Picture of Ryan Gibbons courtesy of Darren Goddard

The full team for the Road World Championships is:

Elite Men: Ryan Gibbons, Nicholas Dougall, Clint Hendricks
U23: Stefan de Bod
Elite women: Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Heidi Dalton, Anriette Schoeman, Carla Oberholzer, Samantha Sanders, Zanele Tshoko
Junior men: Devon Short, Damean Oosthuizen, Jason Oosthuizen
Junior women: Nicolene Marais, Lynette Benson
Soigneur: Alice Rawlinson
Mechanic: Evan Thys
Management: Bosseau Boshoff and Robbie Hunter


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