Track cyclists in town

2012-04-26 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s top track cyclists have descended on Pietermaritzburg ahead of the South African National Track & Para Cycling Championships, which get under way at the revamped Alexandra Park track today. The meet signals the start of the new Cycling South Africa KwaZulu-Natal All Africa Challenge.

Despite a rich track cycling history, the event marks Pietermaritzburg’s first hosting of the champs in over a century.

Many in the track fraternity hope it will help bring renewed interest in the sport in the region and kick-start the growth of track cycling in KwaZulu-Natal.

Having hosted many cycling events across the various cycling disciplines in recent years, the KZN capital has come to be known as “Cycle City” and organisers are confident that this will be another highly successful event.

After being somewhat neglected in recent years, Alexandra Park’s cycle track recently received a complete facelift. This now places it in the top three track facilities in the country and provides participants in the province with a sound platform upon which to train.

Some of the renovations were the building of an inner run-off area on the inside of the track, installation of an inner railing, upgrade of the lights, building of permanent stands, re-marking the track and filling and repairing the track surface.

Just days before the start of the championships, organisers were told that one of the country’s leading track athletes, Bernard Esterhuizen, would not be participating as he enters his final preparation phase in Europe ahead of this year’s London Olympic Games.

One of the riders who will, however, benefit from the recent refurbishment of the track will be Tasol GT’s Nolan Hoffmann, who recently returned from Melbourne, Australia. While there he claimed silver in the 15 km scratch event at the World Track Championships.

Hoffmann will be defending his national titles in the omnium, scratch, Madison and points events and heads to Maritzburg full of confidence and enthusiasm after his recent achievement on the global stage.

The Tasol GT rider will, however, have his work cut out for him in the course of the next few days as he will also attempt to defend his title in the aQuellé Tour Durban road race on Sunday.

The event doubles as the South African National Para Cycling Championships where some of the country’s top disabled cyclists will look to gain top honours and earn themselves the title of national champion.

Racing gets under way at Alexandra Park today.

For a full schedule of events and more information visit www.cyclingsa.com

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