DALTON SHOWS ALLROUND TALENT TO WIN UNDER-16 TOUR

    Often the best way to measure development of young athletic talent is by the size of the athlete’s smile. And Heidi Dalton’s smile, as she stood on top of the podium at the end of the N4 Trans Africa Concessions Cycle Tour in Mpumalanga, couldn’t have been broader.

    dalton

    She had very good reason to smile. The Nashua Toyota CSA rider from Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal won each of the five stages in the Under-16 Girls category and claimed overall victory by more than 20 minutes at what has been lauded by cycling industry insiders as one of the finest stage races in the country.

    That it took place in an around Nelspruit through the scenic, yet challenging Lowveld terrain was one thing, but that N4 Trans Africa Concessions (N4 TRAC), the toll concession company that operates and manages the N4, the main route between Pretoria and Mozambique, was quite another.

    A company with as much interest in roads as that of the cyclists was an appropriate fit, but it was the aggressive, positive racing that became the over-riding talking point of a the four-day stage race that attracted virtually all of the country’s leading young riders.

    Mentored and managed by former African and South African champion and current professional racer, Lynette Burger, the Nashua Toyota CSA Academy is one of very few established cycling organisations that identify and nurture young female road cycling talent. Male talent development has been in place for decades on one level or another, but with South African women’s racing at the professional level fast approaching the standards set internationally, female talent development has become essential.

    And if her dominant performances at the event are anything to go by, Dalton is an exceptional young female talent that looks to have a bright future in this sport.

    “Heidi is really someone for the future as she showed that she can climb, time and sprint,” said Lynette Burger. “Such allround skills are rare and I look forward to being involved in her further development.”

    Dalton’s teammates each deserve a mention too. Leandri du Toit, in her first year outside the Junior ranks, was permitted to compete in the interests of getting some stage-racing experience; an area that’s lacking at all levels in South African cycling. Du Toit wasn’t given any official placings, but she was a daily aggressor, encouraging the younger girls to respond and perform at a higher level.

    Another standout rider was Oudtshoorn resident, Chimone Lewis. The relative newcomer to cycling achieved four podium finishes and showed she has the ambition and hunger to become a consistent winner in the not-to-distant future. And Kirsten de Beer’s third place on Stage 1 confirmed that she too has podium-visiting potential.

    “After the cancellation and disappointment of not having the regular annual Junior Tour in Clarens/Bethlehem this year, Hendrik Wagenaar came to the rescue and put together what I believe to be one of the best tours for youth cycling,” said Burger.

    “With this being the first ever stage race for many of the riders, they learned about the importance of patience, recovery and pacing. They also discovered the relevance of teamwork. David Pieterse, the professional Nashua Toyota team manager, and I were able to spot strengths and weaknesses in the Academy riders and also keep an eye out for new talent that could benefit from the Academy in future.

    N4 TRAC Junior & Under-16 Tour 2011
    Brief leading results:
    Stage 1: 84km
    1 Heidi Dalton (Nashua Toyota)
    2 Vera Adrian (Namibia)
    3 Chimone Lewis (Nashua Toyota)

    Stage 2: 60km
    1 Heidi Dalton (Nashua Toyota)
    2 Vera Adrian (Namibia)
    3 Kirsten de Beer (Nashua Toyota)

    Stage 3a : 20km individual time trial
    1 Heidi Dalton (Nashua Toyota)
    2 Vera Adrian (Namibia)
    3 Chimone Lewis (Nashua Toyota)

    Stage 3b 30min + 1 lap Criterium (2.7km per lap)
    1 Heidi Dalton (Nashua Toyota)
    2 Chimone Lewis (Nashua Toyota)
    3 Vera Adrian (Namibia)

    Stage 4: 54.9km
    1 Heidi Dalton (Nashua Toyota)
    2 Vera Adrian (Namibia)
    3 Chimone Lewis (Nashua Toyota)