Steady mind set for Asher ahead of SA Para Road Champs (KZN)

Double UCI World Champion and South African Champion Justine Asher will be part of the admired line-up for the 2016 SA National Para-cycling Road Championships, which take place this year in Wartburg, KwaZulu-Natal, from 10-11 February. The event is expected to pull crowds from around the country to support their favourite South African Road and Para-cycling athletes.

After the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup leg in Pietermaritzburg, the H2 hand cyclist took a six-week “forced rest” from a shoulder injury. “It’s not always a bad thing, as it allows you to take a break and refocus,” she said.

Asher is ready for Nationals, but remains Rio-focused: “My coach has designed a programme for me specifically so that I don’t peak at SA Champs, as it is so early in the year and my major focus is Rio Paralympics.

“It’s all part of the training process to see where I am and determine where I need to be this season,” she added.

Asher mentioned that she was also looking rather forward to the UCI World Cups this year – especially as South Africa will host the opening round in Pietermaritzburg. “Last year was so wonderful and to be honest, one of the best World Cups I’ve been to. It’s on par with a lot of the international events and South Africa is more than capable of hosting more fantastic events like this,” said Asher.

Cycling South Africa’s Para-cycling Commission Director, Dr Mike Burns, said: “There is no doubt that the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games adds something special to this year's Para-cycling National Championships. For riders already nominated to the provisional Rio squad, the Championships are the first competition event of 2016 that provide an opportunity to allow baseline performances to be established from which progress will be made by riders selected for the Paralympic team towards peak performances at Rio in September.”

Burns also commented on the success of last year’s UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup held in South Africa. “It clearly highlighted the remarkable level of competitiveness within SA Para-cycling. Both seasoned and new members of the national team that competed in the World Cup achieved outstanding results.

“South Africa was placed in the top-five nations in terms of the medal tally for the event, ahead of many Para-cycling heavyweight nations such as Great Britain, Spain and the Netherlands. Also, having globally iconic riders like Ernst van Dyk and double UCI World Champions Pieter du Preez and Justine Asher competing and performing exceptionally well on home soil was something for all South African cycling enthusiasts to be immensely proud of,” he said.

It is good to be reminded of the 2015 UCI Para-cycling World Cup, since the 2016 edition will be held once again in Pietermaritzburg in May this year. Burns also stated that selections for the national team that will be entered for this event would be based on rider performances at the National Championships (click here to see selection policy). “There are, therefore, high stakes involved in this year's National Championships, and it can be expected that riders will put in every effort to perform well in order to be considered for selection to the national team,” concluded Burns.

The 2016 SA National Road, Time Trial and Para-cycling Championships take place in KwaZulu-Natal from 10-14 February. All riders wishing to take part must hold a Full Racing Licence, for riders from the age of 17-years-old wishing to be eligible for provincial and national selection and championship.

Two great venues will play host to the event, with the Time Trial and Para-cycling division being held in the Wartburg/ Noodsburg/ Harburg area from 10-11 February, and the Road Races taking place in Westville/ Durban from 13-14 February.

For information about exquisite accommodation venues, please visit the Cycling SA Website.

Online pre-entries are open, and close on Monday 1 February 2016 at midnight. Click here to enter: https://entries.cyclingsa.com/.

For event information, please visit http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-sa-road-champs/, or contact Kelvin du Sart on kzncycling@iafrica.com 082 446 9833, or Michelle Matthews on matthewsmichelle68@gmail.com 084 407 5566.

ENDS