A number of medals and National Champion titles have been handed out at the start of the 2017 South African National Track Championships, currently being held at the Bellville Velodrome in the Western Cape. With scores of riders representing all the age categories, the six-day event is the most prestigious Track cycling event on the national cycling calendar, with winners of each race earning the title of National Champion.
Bernette Beyers opened up her championship campaign this week when she took top honours In Elite Women’s Sprint race. “I’m very happy with my sprint,” she said, after beating Jennifer Abbot who was a massive competitor for her at African Continental Champs two weeks ago.
“We know each other’s riding styles quite well. I took her two times in the Sprint so I got the gold for that and I’m very happy,” said Beyers.
Beyers also competed in the 3000m Individual Pursuit on Monday, placing second behind Charlene du Preez. “It’s not the event I specialise in because it’s an endurance race, but I am trying to ride every race possible for SA Champs just to be there for the girls, because there aren’t a lot of women in these races. I’m very happy for taking the second place in the Pursuit,” she said.
Another event on her roster is the 1500m, as well as the Points race later this evening. “I won the Points race at the African Continental Champs but that was an absolute surprise for me,” she said, saying that her win was due to the fact that her competitors had raced the Omnium event the day before. “This time around there will much fresher legs out on the track so it should be really good competition,” she concluded.
Courtney Smith won the Junior Women’s Sprint against Jessica Brown in a tightly contested race.
In the Junior Women’s Individual Pursuit, Ashleigh Parsons grabbed the gold medal ahead of second placed Courtney Smith. For Parsons, the Pursuit is a race that means a lot to her. “To gain a title in that race really means a lot to me and I know that I can do well in it. I started off slow and easy, and then began to pick up my speed at the right time, and then I was very consistent with my leg speed and that’s how I managed to win it.”
Gert Fouche (37) claimed the Elite Men’s Individual Pursuit title, an event he had focussed on and trained very hard for. “After qualifying the fastest, I raced in the final against Josh van Wyk and I managed to catch him. I was very happy with my performance, especially against some of the younger guys, with myself being a Master.
“The organisers allowed me to race in the Elite category this year and I wanted to see if I could raise my own bar a little bit, especially focusing on World Champs later on this year. It has been was a very good start to the week,” he said.
Fouche is hoping that he continues his momentum through the rest of the week. “The bigger bunch races will be very hard with some great competition. With guys like Nolan Hoffman against whom I’ll have to compete, I’m looking forward to racing hard the rest of the week.”
Late in the afternoon and wrapping up in the late evening, more medals were awarded as the heats progressed into the Finals. The Junior Men Team Pursuit attracted a lot of excitement as Team VWE with Ricardo Broxham, Jayde Davies, Benedict Moqumo and Jason Oosthuizen blitzed the track in a time of four minutes 45:14 seconds to take the gold medal.
Jean Smith followed that up with a gold medal in his Sprint race, beating Gadi Chait and Matthew de Freitas into silver and bronze medal positions respectively. “Yesterday’s qualifier was not bad, I was happy with my time. Today my legs felt really good, I was confident and I knew I had the ability to win. Six weeks ago, the training with British Cycling helped me tremendously and how to read the races has helped me a lot. Everything played to my strength today. My next race is the Team Sprint and the Kilo, which I think will be the hardest race,” said Smith.
The Elite Men Team Pursuit was closely contested when Team VWE grabbed the title ahead of Team Giant by less than a second. VWE’s talented line up Gert Fouche, Brad Gouveris, Jean Spies and Joshua van Wyk rode consistently to the title.
The evening wrapped up with the Junior Women and Elite Women’s Points race, which saw Courtney Smith and Bernette Beyers add another gold medal to their medal haul of the week so far in the Junior and Elite races respectively.
“I was super tired and those girls are really strong,” said Courtney Smith. “I’m really enjoying the track racing this year, but I also mountain bike and race on the road. I wanted to make the most of this experience with my team, and I’m feeling the fatigue after the African Continental Champs. I’m pretty happy with my results so far, and excited for the rest of the week.”
The 2017 South African National Track Championships continue throughout the week, with the final events taking place on Saturday. For more information or for any updates, please visit https://www.cyclingsa.com/2017-sa-track-champs/.
Summary of Results – Day 1 and 2
Elite Men’s Individual Pursuit 4000m
2.Joshua van Wyk
3.Theuns van der Bank
Elite Women’s Individual Pursuit 3000m
1.Charlene du Preez
Elite Women’s Sprint 750m
Junior Men’s Individual Pursuit 3000m
Junior Women’s Individual Pursuit 2000m
Junior Women’s Sprint 750m
Junior Men Team Pursuit
1.VWE (Ricardo Broxham; Jayde Davies; Benedict Moqumo; Jason Oosthuizen) 4:45.14
2.WC (Ammaar Dollie; Nicholas James; Daniyal Matthews; Abdul Sauls) 4:57.46
3.Future Stars (Brinton Comeroden; Andries Nigrini; Tye Stainbank; Daniel Skews) 5:08.24
Match Sprint Elite Men
3.Matthew de Freitas
Elite Men Team Pursuit
1.VWE (Gert Fouche; Brad Gouveris; Jean Spies; Joshua van Wyk) 4:30.90
2.Giant (Evan Carstens; Tim Jenkinson; Theuns van der Bank; Bernard Esterhuizen) 4:31.51
3.Alfa Bodyworks (Carl Bonthuys; Brandon Christians; Jayde Julius; Shameeg Salie) 4:44.38
Junior Women Points Race
1.Courtney Smith – 35 points
2.Asheligh Parsons – 21 points
Elite Women Points Race
2.Charlene du Preez