South African elite woman road cyclist, An-Li Kachelhoffer, recently competed in the 79.9km De Gemeente Ledegem in Belgium on 23 August, where she claimed her first ever European win in a country that she holds very dear to her heart.
Being her last race in Belgium with Heidi Dalton before linking up with the national team for the Women’s European Racing Programme, Kachelhoffer chats about their successful European stint so far.
“We had four podiums between the two of us in 11 races. For the 12th and final race, I think way back in my mind I had that little thought that it would be great to win the race. If you asked me on the start line if I thought I could win the race I would most probably have said ‘no’.
“We drove two and-a-half hours to get to the race and got caught in traffic so it was such a rush just to get to the start line. I knew that my form was good before the race, but I was really not mentally there. About three laps into the race, my body and mind connected,” she said.
The Team Activate/Demacon rider, who has mentioned her love for Belgium in previous interviews and on social media platforms, says that this win was of great significance in her career.
“I had dreamt about and pursued a win in Belgium for the past five years. Yes, it’s not a UCI race win, but it’s one stepping stone closer to the bigger dream.”
Heidi Dalton recorded an 11th place, 2’15” off Kachelhoffer’s time.
Although often that worth having does not arrive overnight, 28-year-old Kachelhoffer is excited about the progress that South African women’s cycling has made over the past few years.
“As South Africans we are being more respected in the international bunches. As a small all-rounder I would like to hope that other women in South Africa would see that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” she said.
The Women’s European Racing Programme is encompassing events such as Tour Cycliste Féminin International de l'Ardeche (UCI 2.2 stage race in France from 2-7.09.2015) and Premondiale Giro Toscana Int. Femminile - Memorial Michela Fanini (UCI 2.2 stage race in Italy from 11-13.09.2015). Kachelhoffer is competing with her national teammates Cherise Stander, Charlene du Preez, Carla Oberholzer and Candice Neethling, while Dalton has returned to South Africa to compete in the African Games in Congo.