Cycling South Africa played proud hosts to the 2014 UCI BMX African Continental Championships, which took place at Giba Gorge, KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday 26 October. The steady rain in the morning session made the track slippery and tricky, however racing went ahead in line with the event schedule.
Newly crowned national champion, Kyle Dodd, got the perfect start on the 5m start hill on which the Elite Men had to race due to the inclement weather. “It was a really tough race, I had to make sure I had a good gate because the track was really difficult in the rain. I just had to keep it smooth and managed to take the win. It’s a perfect day, it’s been a perfect two days – an awesome weekend really.” Dylan Whittle claimed the Junior Men title.
Maia Rawlins had an equally successful weekend when she claimed first place in the women’s race competing as a Junior in the combined Junior and Elite category. “It was really different racing in the wet. We don't normally do this so it was a new experience. It was good because they race in these conditions in Europe. I’m happy to claim the African Continental title as well.” UCI points were awarded according to their age categories with Rawlins claiming the Junior Women’s title, and Stacey Bryant claiming the Elite Women’s title.
In the 15 Boys race, Dylan Eggar continued his clean sweep of victories, claiming the African Continental Champion title today. “It feels good to have won, it was a close race. My fitness was good, but it was a bit tricky in the berms – it wasn’t that bad.”
Local Giba Gorge participant, Manqoba Madida (15 Boys), was pleased with the weekend’s racing. “The rain made it feel slow but it made me push hard to keep it smooth. My front wheel slipped out in the morning in the first berm. I was looking for first today, and I was first out of the gate, but I got my timing wrong on the first jump. I felt happy and proud to be racing on my home track.”
In the 8 and Under Girls contest, World No. 1 Rebecca Oberholzer (ZIM) proved why she has the number one board. “It was hard in the rain, but I am happy to win the race.”
Caleb Limberg, racing in the 6 Boys race, claimed a comfortable win in the fourth moto while the rain came pouring down on the track. With all four motos to count for the non-Elite competitors, it was his rival and friend Salvador Cronje who claimed the championship title in this category. “I am excited to win today. I enjoyed my race,” he said.
The Track Director for the weekend, Travis Goveia, was pleased with how the track held out in the challenging conditions. “There wasn’t too much we could do to prepare for the rain. We just had to hope for the best. We do have a Dust-A-Side, which stabilises the soil and forms a coating over the top layer, so it does help protect the track from the rain. We had about a week’s worth of rain before the event started, so there was a lot of preparation work in keeping the track race ready for this weekend.”
South African contenders were provided the perfect opportunity to compete against the Zimbabweans in this inaugural event. Cycling Zimbabwe President, Andrew Donaldson, said he hoped to see many more of these UCI point-scoring events on the continent in future.
“It is awesome to be able to bring a team of riders to race here this weekend,” said Donaldson. “We hope in the future we’ll be able to link in a few more African countries.”