Prestige of UCI Rainbow Stripes lures competitive Masters

Cycling has no limit of age, and is one of the sports that people of all ages can enjoy throughout their life, whatever the stage of life you’re in. For those who have aged past the “Elite” age categories and for those who do not race professionally, there is an opportunity to compete against fellow amateur rivals from all over the world, when the Masters age categories of 35 and over get the opportunity to compete against their peers at UCI World Championships.

The most recent event to take place in Los Angeles in the USA was the 2017 UCI Masters Track Cycling World Championships, and South Africa garnered four gold medals from two medallists in the competition.

Gert Fouche racing in the Men 35-39 group and Adelia Reyneke competing in the Women’s 40-44 category, both had opportunities to stand atop the podium at the grand event.

For Fouche, it was three times lucky as he scooped the victories in the 3km Individual Pursuit, the Points Race and the Scratch Race at his second ever UCI World Championships; and also won the bronze medal in the 1km Time Trial where he improved the South African Record as well. Over and above these magnificent achievements, he also improved the current SA record in the Individual Pursuit by two seconds! He dominated this event by beating his closest rival on the day, Chris Baker (USA), by a staggering 12 seconds. Fouche was amongst the South African long list riders who participated at the Commonwealth Games Trials at the Bellville Velodrome on Friday 3 November.

Fouche has been a keen cyclist on the road since 1996 but his start to exhilarating Track racing was at the SA National Championships in 2015. He claimed a gold medal in the Scratch race in the 2016 UCI World Championships, finishing second in the Points and Pursuit and fourth in the Time Trial that year.

“I mostly did road cycling and enjoyed Time Trials,” he said. “I took a break for a while when studying and doing my articles and started cycling again in 2009.”

He won his first national title in 1998 when he clocked the fastest time in the Junior Road Time Trial Championships, and has since won the same title in the Masters category. On the track, he has won several titles, including two titles in the Elite category this year (one for Pursuit and one for Team Pursuit) and 11 national titles in 2015 and 2016 as a Master.

“I always set out to do my best in races, I knew if everything went according to plan, training and otherwise with the long travel, change in time zones and health wise, that I would have a good chance of doing very well. This year my training was focused on the track and specifically this event. I used preparation in the winter for the Transbaviaans MTB race, which was in August, to build a solid endurance base. Our team finished second overall and I'm very proud of that. After the Baviaans it was two months of short sharp efforts on the track. My coach Jaco Ferreira has played a major role in my preparation.”

When he is not competing, Fouche is a lawyer. His next big challenge is selection for the short list for the Commonwealth Games 2018.

Reyneke excelled on the track throughout the competition and secured one gold medal in the 15km Points Race. She was just outside medal contention in the 2000m Individual Pursuit and the 2000m Team Pursuit where she finished in fourth place in each event. Although based in Australia for the past five years, the proudly South African cyclist was also one of the South African long list riders with the aim of representing South Africa in the Team Pursuit at the Commonwealth Games Trials.

Reyneke enjoyed racing triathlons in her youth and did not compete for 16 years before being introduced to Track cycling four years ago. She competed in her first UCI World Championships two years ago however was not performing optimally due to a crash during a training session prior to the event.

A year after Reyneke began cycling, she broke the one-hour record in her age group, and it became her main focus for training for the next two years.

“In that time, I’ve broken the record three times in a row and my current state record stands higher than the World Record at 42.337 kilometres per hour,” she said. “Last year, I set a new women’s record for riding one hour behind a Derny at 52.406 km/h.

“After riding around in circles on my own for two years” as Reyneke puts it, she was ready for a change and has placed her focus on qualifying for the Commonwealth Games 2018, with focus on the team Pursuit and the Points race.

Balancing work and training has been competitive in its own right, and Reyneke has mastered the art of balancing a demanding job as a National Technical and Support Manager for Futureworx (the Australian distributor for Construction Computer Software). Her coach Damian Mason regulates and plans her training very carefully based on her busy work schedule.