Multiple World Champion medallist and six-time Paralympian, Ernst van Dyk, arrived in Pietermaritzburg to join the rest of the South African team on Wednesday for the first ever UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup held in South Africa from 11-13 September.
Although rather unfavourable conditions are predicted for the weekend, Van Dyk was greeted with sunny skies in the City of Choice as he unpacks, settles in and prepares for the events ahead.
The 10-time Boston Marathon Wheelchair Champion spoke about his outlook ahead of the World Cup in his home country. “There’s never a difference in mind-set, its just another World Cup for me,” he said.
“Usually we like to use the World Cups as training and a build-up to World Champs,” said the 42-year-old champion H5 handcyclist. “World Champs is what you work hard for and are at your peak physical performance for. We would like to start afresh at the beginning of next year because then it’s the Rio Olympic Games.
“So compared to the preparation before World Champs, we’ve definitely taken a less intense approach. Having said that though, maybe the few weeks of recovery, rest and less intensive training will benefit me and do me some good ahead of this World Cup,” he added.
Being Africa’s inaugural Para-cycling Road World Cup, van Dyk says that the exposure of the sport in the continent can only grow from here. “It’s most beneficial for the local guys to have it in South Africa. The European Cups and Championships are always so far away, and it’s expensive to travel.
“Also, there’s a huge difference between being a National Champion and competing against some of the best in the world in World Cups. It is important to have exposure to high levels of racing because then they can gauge their performance. If they want to take racing seriously, then they can see how far out their times are in comparison to the top riders, and then they will know how much work needs to be put in at that level. Having this Cup , the next one in May 2016 and then the World Champs in 2017 is a major stepping stone and the sport can only grow.”
After the World Cup, Van Dyk will trade his hand cycle for his wheelchair when he jets off to compete in the Chicago Marathon (October), the New York Marathon (November), and a marathon in Japan (November).
“This will all be racing in the wheelchair, which is very different but so much fun,” he concluded.
The 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup – Pietermaritzburg (11-13 September 2015) will have two competition venues with the time trial competition being staged in the Midmar Dam complex on Friday 11 September and the road races in the city of Pietermaritzburg using Alexandra Park as the official competition venue on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September. For more information, visit: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-uci-para-road-world-cup/.