After signing South African women’s road cycling champion, Cherise Taylor, earlier this month, Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN) has announced it will also sponsor the country’s brightest new cycling star, Karien van Jaarsveld.
Van Jaarsveld (29), a former teammate of Taylor on the now-disbanded Nashua Ladies Cycling Team, will no longer be without a sponsor after she was added to USN’s high-profile cycling line-up on Thursday.
With provincial colours in biathlon (swimming and running) and cross-country running as her athletic foundation, Van Jaarsveld quickly made a successful transition to racing bicycles last year and has shown rare versatility in being able to finish on podiums in both road races and mountain bike events.
Among the highlights in her very short career are second place at the 2010 South African mountain bike marathon championships and fifth place at the 2010 South African road race championships.
“I’m comfortable on both road and mountain bikes. Mountain bike racing in general and the MTN National Marathon Series, in particular, were my initial goals for this year, but I’ve developed a love for road racing and have produced some good results, including a couple of wins. I’m going to continue racing both disciplines,” said Van Jaarsveld.
Van Jaarsveld was invited to be a guest rider on the MTN professional women’s road team that competed in La Route de France earlier this month. The six-stage race is one of the highest profile women’s races on the International Cycling Union calendar and attracted many of the world’s top professional racers. Van Jaarsveld was unfortunate to crash on Stage 3 after a rider in front of her lost control of her bike. Van Jaarsveld’s injuries forced her to withdraw.
“I’m very grateful to USN for its confidence in my abilities and its support. I believe that although it’s just Cherise and I, we’ll be a very competitive force in all of the country’s major road races. We plan to compete in some mountain bike stage races as a team too,” explained Van Jaarsveld.
“Karien has achieved some very impressive results in a very short time and we see a great future for her. We are pleased to be able to offer her an environment where she can continue to improve and reach her potential. As with all our sponsored athletes, Karien will work in conjunction with our specialist sports dieticians in the development of new products or variations of existing products in our endurance range,” said Albe Geldenhuys, USN founder and chairman.
Although not yet fully recovered from her injuries, Van Jaarsveld will start as one of the favourites for victory at Saturday’s fifth round of the MTN National Marathon Series in Cullinan, northeast of Pretoria. With three events remaining, she is currently lying second in the country’s most prestigious series.