Pietermaritzburg – Following a revamp to the Sax Young Cycling Track at Alexandra Park, Africa’s Bike City will increase its credentials as the go-to biking Mecca of South Africa when the city adds the African Continental Track Championships from 21-25 January to its already impressive portfolio of international cycling events it has hosted.
While efforts are continuously made to elevate track cycling to the level of some of cycling's other disciplines on the continent, the organisers still expect there to be representation from a number of countries around Africa other than the hosts during the four days of competition.
There are currently nine nations entered with Morocco, Nigeria, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Djibouti all sending riders to the event with an eye on growing the discipline throughout Africa in the future.
The championships have also been opened up to UCI registered teams, national teams, provincial teams as well as cycling clubs in order to give as many cyclists as possible the opportunity to compete at continental level, which in turn suggests that there could well be an increased presence of South African riders at the event.
Director of the World Cycling Centre in Africa JP van Zyl recently completed a training camp for road and track riders from around the continent in Potchefstroom and he highlights the importance of having a continental track championship in Africa.
“We have had these champs before, in 1999 and 2001,” Van Zyl said. “It is really good for the modern track era to have these championships and for Africa to have their own continental championships that double up as World Champs and Olympic qualifiers.
“We as a continent have lacked representation at these events so it is important that we provide riders with the opportunity to succeed.”
With seven African representatives being sent from the camp to the Track Championships, Van Zyl feels that these riders have the ability to push the local riders all the way.
“We have three girls from Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia and four guys from Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Libya and Algeria and I think that they will compete well against the South African riders. They will be competitive and it is a great chance for them to take on the best in Africa and see where they come up,” Van Zyl explained.
South Africa’s premier track cyclist and Team Abantu ace Nolan Hoffman will be representing South Africa at the continental championships as he seeks to add a continental championship to his impressive record of multiple national championships as well as a World Champs silver medal in the 15km scratch race.
The South African women’s charge will be led by track national champion Maroesjka Matthee who will be hoping to add a first continental title to her list of achievements as she sets her sights on earning valuable UCI ranking points.
Para-cycling has also been included in the event with seven events for both the men and women. South Africa’s stand-out Para-track rider, Roxy Burns, has confirmed she will be taking part as she prepares for the Para-Track World Championships in March in the Netherlands.
The African Continental Track Champs will be streamed live on Friday 23 and Saturday 24 January from 09:00 to 18:00 on www.streamit360.tv. Uploads of the edited highlights packages from Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 January will be available to view on Wednesday and Thursday evening from 20:00.
Follow the conversation during the 2015 African Continental Track Champs on Cycling SA's social media platforms using the hashtags #CACtrackchamps #africachamps on Twitter (@Cycling_SA) and Instagram (Cycling_SA).Entrance for spectators is free of charge.
More information can be found at http://www.cyclingsa.com/2015-african-conti-track-champs