Ten days ago An-Li Pretorius (MTN-Energade) finished third in the women’s race of the Carousel Classic and five days ago she was second in the EPR Cycle Challenge.
The question now is whether Pretorius will again be able to go one better and achieve victory during Saturday’s Lost City Classic (21 August 2010).
This petite rider is quietly confident that she might just be able to pull off her first major victory as a pro-cyclist, but she correctly points out that in cycling nothing can be taken for granted before the finishing line is crossed.
Pretorius was 4th in last year’s Lost City race.
Cycling has not always been her favourite sport.
At school she was considered to be an up and coming multi-sport athlete. She was a World Champion in biathlon (running and swimming) in her age-group, as well as a World Champion in duathlon (running and cycling), also in her age-group.
But then, in November 2006, a stupid driver behind the steering wheel of a motor car ended Pretorius’s dream of representing South Africa at the Olympic Games as a triathlete.
Pretorius said that she and a few friends were on a training ride on the Moloto road north of Pretoria, when this reckless driver decided to overtake a taxi on the left hand side of the road, going into the yellow lane.
“I did not realize what was happening until the guy drove into the back of my bicycle.”
Pretorius considers herself extremely lucky. She could have been killed, but apart from being quite badly concussed the worst of her injuries were a fracture in her tibia and torn ligaments in her right knee.
The bad news for the talented youngster was that her running career was, for all practical purposes, something of the past. This in effect meant that her career as a multi-sport athlete also came to an abrupt end.
However, Pretorius is a fighter. She did not even consider leading a life without sport. She was also not prepared to give up on her Olympic dream. Therefore, on her doctor’s advice, she re-invented herself as a cyclist.
Her cycling career started in August 2007 when she competed in the Carousel Race for the first time.
“I know it will take another few years before I will be good enough to represent South Africa at the Games, but I am prepared to put in the long hours and hard work to make my dream a reality.”
Last year Pretorius’s best result was a second-place finish in the 94.7. She also won the SA Student Road Championship race.