National road champs draw hundreds

2016-01-13 06:00
                                                                PHOTO: Ian carbutt South African stars Ernst van Dyk and Simon Makhubela will have an opportunity to show their best in the 2016 Para-cycling Road World Cup, which will be held around th

PHOTO: Ian carbutt South African stars Ernst van Dyk and Simon Makhubela will have an opportunity to show their best in the 2016 Para-cycling Road World Cup, which will be held around th

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PIETERMARITZBURG - “Bike City” - is gearing up for its first action of the year, with the South African National Road Championships taking place from 10 to 14 February.

The event is expected to draw between 700 and 800 riders, with the time trial taking place on the same route as last year’s African championships around Wartburg and Noodsberg, and the road races taking place in the Westville area.

“It’s a big event. The national champs cater for all age groups. You have from 10-year-olds to 70, 80-year-olds.

“It’s a great event from an economic impact perspective. We’re not just about the international stuff. We’re also about the big national events,” organiser Alec Lenferna said.

“We have also tried to structure the programme of events for the next couple of years so that it not only takes the city and the region’s needs into consideration, but also the needs of cycling in the country,” he added.

Over the weekend of 30 April to 2 May, the second Pietermaritzburg International MTB Festival is on the calendar.

“There is a mix of high-end international events, so we are doing the elite men and women cross-country event at HC level, which is one below the World Cup. We are also doing a junior world series event, which is like a World Cup level event for juniors.

“It will be one of the last opportunities for nations to qualify riders for the Olympics,” Lenferna explained.

The festival will include enduro for the first time and the SA Masters Marathon Championships, which the city has secured for the next three years.

“That’s a nod to Maritzburg from an economic perspective. It brings in lots of people,” said Lenferna. Schools’ and development events will also play a big role in the event.

Just one week later, Pietermaritzburg will host the Para-cycling Road World Cup for a second time and as the only World Cup outside of Europe, double points will be on offer. With it being an Olympic year, Lenferna said the entry would be smaller than that of the 2015 event, which was the last World Cup at which riders could accumulate Olympic qualifying points, but the top riders will definitely be in action.

“The aim is to highlight the abilities of the para-athletes, because what they do is amazing. It also allows us to fine-tune the planning for [hosting] the 2017 World Championships,” he said.
Plans are also in place to utilise the infrastructure that will be put in place for the World Cup to host development road racing and club championships for teams from throughout South Africa.

The KZN Autumn Masters Tour, a new addition to the cycling calendar, is scheduled for 17-20 August, and will be for cyclists over the age of 30, catering to competitive amateurs and to those who simply like taking part in such events. It will consist of four routes of between 120km and 130km per day.

On 21 August, the UCI-backed KZN Autumn Men’s Pro Challenge will be held. Lenferna said the 2015 Autumn Challenge hosted a great race in and around Pietermaritzburg.

“The pro guys really liked it. We had it on a 21-kilometre loop around the city and I would like to repeat that again.”

Throughout the year development series in BMX, MTB and road racing will be held throughout KwaZulu- Natal.

“They’re aimed at the best of the children involved in development programmes.

“You need to be able to then put them into a situation where they are competing, because they can then determine whether cycling is a sport that they would like to follow through on,” Lenferna said.

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