Posted on August 29th, 2014 No comments
South African time-trial champion Juanita Venter beat the world’s top veteran cyclists to win gold in her signature event on the opening day of the UCI Amateur Road World Championships in Slovenia on Wednesday. Venter set a solid pace on the streets of Ljubljana to cover the 18.6km out-and-back course in 26:53.2 and claim the world champion’s rainbow jersey in the 35 to 39 age group.
The Bestmed-ASG rider also finished third overall on the women’s podium behind the United States’ Molly van Houweling (40-44) and Slovenian Danijela Svetik (19-34), who stopped the clock in 25:31.7 and 26:35.8 respectively. Venter said she was thrilled to have taken the gold in her very first international competition. “I’m honoured and humbled by the overwhelming support I got from my family, friends, sponsors and the cycling community,” she said.
According to Venter, she had decided beforehand to take the opportunity to appreciate the experience, ride the best race she possibly could and have no regrets afterwards. “I think my bucket list is now quite complete!” The 38-year-old said the flat course had suited her quite well although she would have preferred a more undulating route.
“Going out we had a headwind and I battled to keep my speed above 40km per hour. “At the turnaround point I was nine seconds behind.” With the wind at her back, she put the hammer down and pushed her pace up to an average of 45km per hour. “I pedalled out the saddle on the corners and sprinted towards the end. Something must have worked because I won my age group by point seven of a second!”
Venter has been on top time-trial form this year, winning the solo event at both the Bestmed Tour de Boland in March and the Lowveld Tour in August. The Pretoria resident, who is also the national road champion in her age category, will now turn her attentions to Sunday’s 156km road race. “All the age category women will race together and I’ll try to be at the front although there are no other South Africans to assist me in the peloton.” Bestmed-ASG team manager Owen Botha said, as captain, Venter was a role model to the younger riders on her team.
“Whatever she does reflects positively on us and everyone in the team looks up to her.” He said her junior teammates Monique Gerber, Michelle Benson and Catherine Colyn would draw inspiration from her victory ahead of their own participation in the UCI Road World Championships in Spain at the end of September.
Posted on August 25th, 2014 No comments
Gauteng mountain bikers have just a few more days to enter the Pennypinchers Silverstar Mountain Bike Challenge, which takes place near Krugersdorp on September 6. More than 1 500 participants are expected to turn out for the seventh edition of the West Rand event, which comprises a 40km feature race and 20km short course option. According to race director Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events, the spring race offers some of the most scenic riding in the province.
“The views from the top of the mountain are absolutely breathtaking. On a clear day, you can see Sandton City and even Pretoria in the distance.”De Villiers said the event lay particularly close to his heart, as it was the very first race he organised more than a decade ago. “In its previous incarnation as the Colorpress Eagle Ride, it took place in the Ruimsig botanical gardens, which is about 2km from our current venue.” Begun as a fundraiser to protect the Black Eagle breeding pair that nested in the kloof above the gardens, both the race and the birds had survived and flourished, he said.
“Today, we present around 40 races annually but this is where I first discovered the absolute freedom and joy of pure mountain biking.”De Villiers said the event now started and finished at the casino and traversed a series of neighbouring properties, including the well-known Laurentia Flower Farm and Hero Adventure Park King’s Kloof.“This is the first opportunity for participants to ride the newly upgraded trails at the park and enjoy some exciting new sections.”
He said both routes were designed to offer flowing riding and a mix of challenges. “The longer distance features a combination of technical single-track, jeep track and gravel roads, as well as a serious 500-metre climb and some fast-paced descents.” Families and social riders would enjoy the shorter option, as it was not overly technical but still presented a good day’s riding, he said.
Enter at www.asgevents.co.za before August 31. No late entries will be accepted on race day. Follow @SilverstarMTB or find Silverstar MTB Challenge on Facebook.
Posted on August 21st, 2014 No comments
The grit and determination of the Gauteng mountain biking fraternity will be tested to the full when the Pretoria Boys High School 24-Hour Challenge takes place on Saturday, September 6. The fourth edition of this endurance event, presented by Barden Tyres, will once again roll out across the 85-acre campus in Brooklyn, southeast of the city centre.
According to organiser Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events, up to 500 participants are expected to push the limits of their mental and physical staying power. “It’s a unique experience – taking on a 24-hour challenge within the city limits,” said De Villiers. “The course covers the school estate, taking riders between the historic school buildings, around the pristine sports fields and through its 100-year-old forests.”
He said solo riders and relay teams of two to eight participants would be required to cover as many laps of the 6km circuit as possible in the allotted timeframe. Last year’s male and female solo winners were Christo van den Heever and Nicky Booyens. “Aside from negotiating the technical sections, riders have to manage their food and hydration levels and deal with factors such as fatigue and changing temperature and light conditions.”
De Villiers said a six-hour schools’ challenge would be introduced this year in memory of former matric pupil and promising national cyclist Adam Reyneke, who was killed on a training ride four years ago. The Spur kids’ races, for ages three to eight, would keep participants’ younger siblings entertained, he said. “The kiddies’ track will also be open after their race, so they can have fun throughout the event. In addition, we’re launching a 24-hour corporate team challenge.”
As far as incentives were concerned, De Villiers said they would be giving away R10 000 worth of prizes to schools as well as products from Rudy Project and other items courtesy of the title sponsor. “Every entrant also receives a free T-shirt and event Buff. There’s a host of lucky draw prizes too, including helicopter trips and hampers.” De Villiers said the public were invited to enjoy the carnival atmosphere of the annual school fundraiser, which would include a beer tent, food stalls, children’s play area, musical entertainment and the screening of the Springbok rugby test.
A camping site will be provided for tents, bush trailers and camper vans. Enter at www.asgevents.co.za before September 2. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or phone 076 621 1807. Alternatively, follow @PtaBoysHighMTB or find 24hr Pretoria Boys High School MTB Challenge on Facebook.
Posted on August 20th, 2014 No comments
The 19th edition of the Eqstra Spring Classic, Joburg’s oldest mountain bike race that takes place on Sunday, 7 September, has pledged to focus fully on ‘the rider experience’ in order to maintain its status as one of Gauteng’s favourite races.
With the continued phenomenal growth of mountain biking making it one of the most popular sports in the province, the Gauteng race calendar has filled up with new events in recent years, with organisers looking to capitalise on the sport’s popularity. A full calendar means a lot more choice for mountain bikers, but there’s a widespread belief, particularly among experienced mountain bikers, that many of the new events miss the mark in terms of delivering a complete mountain biking experience.
“I actually competed in the first Spring Classic back in 1995, when mountain bike racing was still small and event organisers went all out to offer great value for money and a balanced, challenging race route,” recalls Richard Beswick, a former professional racer and the organiser of the Eqstra Spring Classic. “The Spring Classic, has endured because it’s always remained focussed on ‘the rider experience’ and that focus will continue at this year’s event.”
A reasonable entry fee, a quality participant goodie bag, a safe, well-marked route with a variety of natural obstacles in the countryside and a choice of distances are among the elements Eqstra Spring Classic the entrants can expect for next month’s Eqstra Spring Classic. There is also strong focus on the pre-and post-race periods, ablution facilities, parking, rider communication and refreshment/nourishment throughout the day.
“Riders return to this event year after year because they know they’re getting a great-value and exciting mountain biking experience. We’ve modernised certain elements of the race and the venue has changed since the early editions, but old-school mountain bike values remain the core focus of the Spring Classic,” added Beswick. This is the fifth year that Eqstra is the title sponsor of the Spring Classic. Eqstra’s core business is the distribution, long-term lease and rental of mobile capital equipment and the provision of related value added annuity services to clients in the construction, mining and commercial sectors. The Spring Classic will once again incorporate some of Eqstra’s products into the race route for something a little different.
According to Beswick, the main 45km race, which starts and finishes at Avianto, Muldersdrift, just north of Randburg, will deliver a little bit of everything that mountain bikers seek in their quest for a rewarding race. “The Avianto trails, which are highly rated in the mountain bike market, will form the foundation for the race route, but we’ve added a whole lot of extra elements in order to ensure the route offers a balanced, fresh challenge for both fit riders and those just wanting to earn another finisher’s medal,” explained Beswick.
“The 20km and 10km distances also on offer will be suitably designed for the less-fit, less-skilled riders, but will still ensure a rewarding ride,” he added. There is a 1200-rider limit on the event to ensure minimal congestion and maximum enjoyment. Beswick urges riders to get their entries in soon to avoid disappointment. For more information on the Eqstra Spring Classic, or to enter online, visit www.springclassic.co.za
Posted on August 12th, 2014 No comments
Cycling has become the fastest-growing sport in South Africa and has created great growth opportunities for our economy over the past few years. However, there has been a complete lack of formalised and structured training of bicycle mechanics in South Africa.
Torq Zone, South Africa’s first concept bicycle workshop, today announced its partnership with the Association of Cycling Traders (ACT) UK, to establish the Torq Zone Academy in Gauteng. Torq Zone and ACT UK signed a five year exclusive agreement for the Torq Zone Academy to be the licenced training provider of their Cytech™ Technical Scheme in South Africa.
“Our partnership with ACT gives us the opportunity to adopt much needed skills in our industry and it enables us to present internationally accredited Cytech™ Technical courses right here in South Africa,” said Dirk Oerlemans, owner of Torq Zone.
Cytech™ Technical courses will now be presented exclusively in South Africa through the newly established Torq Zone Academy which is scheduled to open in Centurion in October 2014.
“Now, for the first time in South Africa, there will be an institution where bicycle mechanics can go and learn their trade, ultimately to become a professional bicycle Technician and get local and international recognition for it. Effectively this will put the occupation of a Bicycle Technician on the map and provide much needed recognition,” said Graeme Stickells, partner of the Torq Zone Academy.
The occupation “Bicycle Mechanic”, against which a National Qualification could be developed, is recorded on the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO), a framework listing all occupations in South Africa. Torq Zone intends to take the lead in developing a National Qualification for bicycle technicians which will be registered on the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF).”
As a value-add, Torq Zone Academy sees itself partnering with social development schemes to offer skills upliftment opportunities for previously disadvantaged individuals. The company further plans to introduce a programme where cycling enthusiasts themselves can also affect positive change through their “Adopt a Technician” programme.
Posted on August 12th, 2014 No comments
Gauteng mountain bikers will have a chance to stretch their legs and shake off the winter cobwebs with the first of the spring races near Krugersdorp on September 6. The Pennypinchers Silverstar Mountain Bike Challenge offers true mountain biking in the heart of suburbia with spectacular views of the City of Gold. Race organiser Wynand de Villiers believes it is this scenic contrast that makes it one of the most picturesque routes anywhere in South Africa.
“Although you’re very close to the city, you can truly feel part of nature and be spoiled with unsurpassed views and great riding terrain.”The out-and-back route takes riders from the casino through a series of neighbouring farms that include the well-known Laurentia Flower Farm and onto King’s Kloof Trails.With the Hero Adventure team having taken over King’s Kloof, the 7th edition of the West Rand race will be the first opportunity for riders to enjoy the trail upgrades that have been under wraps until now.
According to route director Darren Herbst, the existing trails have been remoulded and a couple of new additions inserted.“The route hasn’t changed much for a number of years and I think that’s what makes this event so special,” said Herbst. “It’s all about experiencing awesome routes with memorable features, a great atmosphere and the feeling of accomplishment when you finish. People come and ride the event to relive that experience year after year.”
With the advent of Hero Adventure Park King’s Kloof, he said the trails were sure to be of an even better quality than in previous years.“Hero and ASG have a close relationship and together we are working hard to ensure that the 2014 edition will be more enjoyable than ever.”He said his team were expecting more than 1 500 riders to turn out for the event, which would once again comprise the 40km feature race and 20km short-course options.
“There’s a definite demand for fun, family-oriented races. Events are about escaping from everyday pressures and I think we all want to take part in races that make us forget about the work week and stress.”As route director, Herbst said his personal objective was to offer something for everyone. “There are most definitely cyclists who look for certain types of distances and difficulty, and we try to cater for that.
“Then there are those who want a good challenge to make their training worthwhile, and then there are the average Joes who are just out there for a great day.” Although no marathon distance is currently on offer, he advised riders not to underestimate the challenge of the shorter courses.“The distances might not be that long but they are by no means easy, especially the 40km. We have attracted a number of pros in the past and I don’t think that will change.”
Catering for the more seasoned cyclist, the 40km features a monster climb, long, hairy descents on old ox wagon trails and rocky single-track sections. “It’s something truly special. It has some serious climbs and technical sections that can only put a smile on your face. “The descents are fast and winding, so you need to keep your wits about you. Look forward to giving your legs a good workout, but it’s all worth it.” The 20km route, on the other hand, would suit every type of rider, said Herbst. “There are no seriously technical sections but there is more than enough single-track and features along the way to ensure a great day out.”
Incorporating single and jeep track, forest trails and a couple of small hills to keep the juices flowing, he said there promised to be something for everyone. Registration takes place from 10am to 4pm on the Thursday before the race at Cycle Lab Fourways and between 10am and 4pm the following day at Leewee’s Cycles at Featherbrooke Village Shopping Centre.
Posted on August 11th, 2014 No comments
146 kilometres, three stages and possibly the most picturesque trail ride in South Africa – this is the annual Storms River Traverse, currently taking place over three days in the magnificent setting of the Storms River Village.
Sponsored by leading asset management group 36ONE, the event plays host not only to riders who want to enjoy the beauty of the trail around the plantations, coastline and mountains, but also to those who see it as a platform from which to catapult their dreams.
Dryland Event Management, organiser of the Traverse, has teamed up with sport nutrition engineers 32Gi to afford two riders from the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy the opportunity to cycle in this year’s event. Tsepo Nyirenda, who partnered with Clayton Duckworth in the 2014 Absa Cape Epic, will this time be mentoring fellow DMA member Tendani Mahole.
Nyirenda is currently training under The Saxon Hotel’s Executive Chef David Higgs, whom he met at the Cape Epic. Mahole is also pursuing a passion for food as a full-time chef. Higgs believes that Nyirenda will be able to use his experience from the Epic to guide first-time rider Mahole through the threeday Traverse. The hope is that the partnership will also empower the latter with the necessary multi-stage event skills and experience to share with his fellow Academy riders back home.
“32Gi is excited to be involved in the development of cycling in South Africa through the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy and we always look forward to providing additional opportunities for their riders to be exposed to amazing stage races through our partnership with Dryland Event Management. We wish Tsepo and Tendani the best of luck on this adventure!” said Pippa Hunt from 32Gi.
Posted on August 5th, 2014 No comments
Mountain bikers and roadies have one last chance to sign up to cycle for cancer before entries for the Powerade Bestmed Lost City Cycle Festival close at 11pm on Tuesday evening.
The 17th edition of the event takes to the roads and offroad trails around Sun City on August 16 and 17.
Dubbed “Cycle 4 Cansa”, the proceeds from the weekend festival of cycling go to the North-West Province branch of the Cancer Association of South Africa, which runs various screening and prevention campaigns in the area.
According to Wynand de Villiers of ASG Events, the race has raised well over R3 million for the fight against the disease and more than 5 000 participants are expected to do their bit this year.
The festival kicks off with the 115km Lost City Classic and shorter road races on the Saturday, while the Lost City Mountain Bike events bring the weekend to a close on the Sunday.
“The road race follows an undulating course on quiet roads that are very well policed by the local traffic authorities,” said De Villiers.
“Riders get a taste of the local Bafokeng culture, as they pass the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, traditional village and king’s palace.”
As the first of the spring classics and one of the premier seeding events for the Cape Argus Momentum Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, he said the race drew all the top pro teams in the country.
Last year, Argus champion Nolan Hoffman scooped the laurels for Team Abantu in a bunch sprint.
For social riders, De Villiers said there would be a less taxing 66km alternative, with 12km and 1km options for children.
“The big news on the mountain bike side is that the 50km feature race will return to the 25km circuit-based route that was first introduced four years ago.
“Feature race participants will do two circuits of the short course but with some additional technical challenges thrown in on the second loop.”
De Villiers says organisers had decided to go back to the loop-based option due to rider demand.
“The general consensus was that this course offered an amazing experience both from a route and scenery point of view.”
Participants traverse sections of the casino resort’s grounds, including a palm plantation and the Gary Player and Lost City golf courses. They also ride through the neighbouring Letsatsing Game Reserve.
“The game rangers actually keep the elephants and rhinos to one side to allow our riders to pass through the heart of the reserve.”
He said the mountain bike route delivered a sting in the tail, ending with a technical section on the Sun City motocross track before the finish at the main resort.
All participants and their families will receive free entrance to Sun City and the Valley of Waves on race day, with special accommodation packages available at the resort.
Registration takes place from 9am to 4pm on the Wednesday before the event at Cycle Lab Centurion, from 9am to 4pm on the Thursday at Cycle Lab Fourways and from 11am to 7.30pm on the Friday at the Sun City Sport Village.
Entries for the kiddies’ events will be accepted on race day.
Enter online at www.cycleevents.co.za. For more information, visit www.cansalostcity.co.za. Alternatively, find Lost City Cycle Festival on Facebook or follow @lostcitycycle.
Posted on August 5th, 2014 No comments
Port Elizabeth cyclist Monique Gerber will take on the world’s best at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Gwang Myeong, Korea, from August 8 to 12.
Gerber, who races locally for the Bestmed-Shukuma Madibaz club, said she was excited at being given the opportunity to race against the best junior women in the world.
It will be the 18-year-old’s first outing at the event after illness and lack of early season form put paid to her selection last year.
She returned to her best this season to win all her events at the national track championships in April, after finishing runner-up at the 110km Tour Durban the day before the competition started.
The African junior road race champion said her track selection had come as quite a surprise as her focus had been on preparing for the road equivalent, which takes places in Spain in September.
“I’ve had a very good season on the road and finished on the podium in a number of national classics against the elite ladies,” said Gerber, who also rides in the colours of pro team Bestmed-ASG.
Although the road team has yet to be announced, she said as reigning continental champion she was hopeful of her inclusion.
“I’ve been spending most of my time training in the mountains, so I only started doing speed work on the track a week or two ago.
“It’s been tough getting used to the high speed again but I’m feeling more comfortable every day.”
Gerber said she would use her road training to her advantage by concentrating on the longer track events. She will participate in the 7.5km scratch race, 2km individual pursuit and the 20km points race.
“The pursuit has become a very specialised event. I set world-class times as an under-14 and under-16 rider but I haven’t focused on it this year, so my best chance of a medal will be in the points race, where I believe my road endurance will help a lot.”
While she does have the SA pursuit record in her sights, she said it was difficult to gauge her current levels of performance against those of her international peers.
“I broke it while competing in Australia. The wood surfaces there are so much faster than the concrete in South Africa, so it’s very difficult to measure your performance based on times set here at home.”
Gerber comes from a cycling-mad family, who relocated briefly Down Under to allow her to gain international racing experience.
“There I trained with 2008 Olympic road race champion Nicole Cook and many other track world champions. I won many criterium races and on the track I won two silver medals at the Western Australia state championships.”
She and sister Anja, who also races professionally, are now both home-schooled to allow them the flexibility to balance their academic and riding schedules.
Their mother is in charge of their education, while father Frans, who has a degree in sport science, does duty as coach. “So our school books often travel along when we go away to races.” Gerber plans to study education at NMMU from next year. Her Madibaz teammate Francois Geldenhuys will also do the university proud when he competes in the UCI World Cycling Tour Finals, which start in Slovenia at the end of August.
Geldenhuys qualified for a spot at the prestigious event when he won both the time trial and road race in the 30-34 age category at last year’s Msunduzi Road Challenge.
Posted on August 4th, 2014 No comments
South African Andrew McLean and his Austrian teammate, Heinz Zorweg, claimed a dominant category victory and finished 20th overall at the 17th annual Bike Transalp international mountain bike stage race in Europe at the weekend.
McLean, a member of the Cycle Lab Supercycling, powered by Toyota club, teamed up with Zorweg for the seven-day 587km race from Oberammergau, Germany to Riva del Garda, Italy across the Alps mountain range.
Competing in the Grand Master division (50 years and over), McLean and Zorweg led their age category from start to finish, claiming six stage wins in the process. But it’s their 20th place overall in a classy international field of full-time professional racers that impressed most.
The race included a total of 19 227 metres of vertical ascent, making it one of the toughest climbing events in bicycle racing. Torrential rain on two stages made conditions even more challenging, while a stomach bug on Day 5 reduced Zorweg to survival mode for the 100km leg with 2800 metres of climbing.
“That was tough! There was a lot of climbing. Huge climbs compared to what we have in South Africa. We had hard rain, cold and heat throughout the event so it was a real allround challenge,” said McLean.
“Heinz had two bad days, Stage 2 where he struggled with the cold and rain that we weren’t exactly prepared for in terms of clothing choice and Stage 5 where he was ill. But he’s so tough and just kept soldiering on. He’s an incredible athlete.
“I struggled a bit on some of the steep, technical descents. I wasn’t expecting such difficult downhill sections and had to go slow and walk some bits. The general skill level among riders in Europe is a lot higher than the level in South Africa, but it makes for a very complete mountain biking challenge,” added McLean.
The victory is the second long stage race win for McLean and Zorweg in 2014. The pair raced to a dominant Grand Masters Category title at the ABSA Cape Epic in March, where they also placed a remarkable 15th overall.
The German pairing of Jochen Kaess and Markus Kaufmann of Team Centurion Vaude, who briefly led the 2014 ABSA Cape Epic before dropping to 10th place, won the Bike Transalp title overall for the second year in succession.