Although having now returned from the busyness of wheelchair racing abroad, the pace has by no means lessened for the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games’ gold medallist, Ernst van Dyk, who now heads to Pietermaritzburg for this weekend’s UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup at Alexandra Park from 7-8 May.
Van Dyk’s talents extend beyond just cycling and he is equally highly resected in the athletics discipline as well. He stays on top of his game despite crossing over from wheelchair racing to hand cycling, and vice versa. The ten-time Boston Marathon winner said of the two sporting codes: “They were both super competitive, and I’m happy with my results overseas, but then again I think you’re kind of expected to do well in this Paralympic year,” he said.
Although a cold front is predicted to hit Africa’s Bike City this coming weekend, Van Dyk doesn’t seem too phased about the weather. “I don’t mind the cooler weather, but having said that, it is a little bit tougher to get going when it isn’t warm. It takes much longer for our bodies to warm up, the air is denser, so everything is slower, and we have to work much harder, so it’s never pleasant in the cold. But I’ll be happier if there isn’t any wind – that makes everything difficult,” he said.
Van Dyk is delighted to see the first round of the World Cup in his own country, which is a feeling not often describable by athletes in any sporting discipline playing a home game. “It’s going to be a great one,” he said.
The H5 hand-cyclist is looking forward to battling it out for important UCI World Cup points in this ever-important Paralympic season, even though the field this year will be slightly smaller. “Because a lot of the athletes have had to be specific this year in terms of the chosen races, many have opted not to come to the first World Cup, which is a little bit disappointing, but the field is still awesome and we have a large national team competing, which is fantastic as well,” he added.
Opting out of the next World Cup round in Belgium, Van Dyk is now fully focused on the Rio Paralympics. “I have decided to give Belgium a miss and put in some solid preparation instead. So next for me will be the World Cup in Spain in mid July, and then after that, Rio,” he concluded.
The opening round of the 2016 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup takes place at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 May. More information can be found here: http://www.cyclingsa.com/2016-uci-para-road-world-cup/.
Spectators are welcome to come and support the local and international riders that will be participating, and the pit area is open for people to meet their cycling heroes. For those that cannot attend, the full days’ racing will be live streamed on www.streamit360.tv.