Newly crowned African Continental Track Champion in the Points Race, Steven van Heerden, rode a calculated race to accumulate the most points to add the National Championship title to his repertoire at the 2017 South African National Track Championships at the Bellville Velodrome today.
Van Heerden utilised race tactics to claim his victory, which play out so prominently in events like the Points race. “Going into the race I knew I had my work cut out as there were a few strong guys there with us – guys that are fast in the sprint and I had to tire them out in the beginning and get my points on the board earlier, which placed less pressure on me in the end.
“From there, David and I got away and we put more pressure on the guys to just get more points on the board. It was a fine race and I enjoyed it a lot.”
David Maree and Evan Carstens finished in second and third places respectively.
After winning the Junior Men Points Race, Jason Oosthuizen spoke highly of the organisation of the event and the atmosphere indoors. “The indoor track makes huge difference for our times and race tactics especially in a race like the Points race, as it is not the strongest rider who wins. No one wants to set the pace so we all held a steady pace.
“Every 10 laps I went for the points. Towards the end, we were left with five riders and I took as many sprints as I could. It’s a 250-metre track, so it is hard to get the gap and I knew it wouldn't be possible to lap the riders. Luckily I could turn a bigger gear and gain and advantage on the other riders. It’s been a great vibe here and there has been some nice racing so far.”
Bernette Beyers continued her fantastic form to rack up yet another two gold medals when she won the Elite Women’s Scratch Race, beating Charlene du Preez and Jennifer Abbott into the silver and bronze medal places respectively as well as grabbing the Elite Women’s 500m Time Trial title.
When chatting about her victories, she said: “Today was a exciting but emotional day with two Golds and 500m Time Trial being one of my main events.
“Scratch-being an endurance 10km race was fast and hard, and we had a lot of attacks from the girls’ with Charlene pushing the bunch to the limit. I had to work out a strategy to make an attack before the end. Being a sprinter, my legs were getting tired from not training for the longer events, and felt I wouldn’t be able to hold a sprint at the last lap.”
Beyers made the decision by catching them off guard and jumped with three and half laps to go. For her, it was the best decision she could have made and rode over the finish line first. “It may also be because I'm riding for my Sponser, and I wanted to show them that I'm worth it. Bestmed Asg has been supporting me all the way and I can only thank them by giving them a gold medal.”
Beyers has many races still to come this week, included the all-round Omnium event on Saturday.
After taking the Points race title at the African Continental Championships last month, Beyers managed to bag the SA National title as well yesterday afternoon. “The field was strong, and very different field to the Africa Continental Champs,” she said.
“There were a lot more girls and that made the strategy different during the race. Being very new in the point race, I was shocked to see that it was a 100 laps,” she added. Beyers went on to say that she had not trained for endurance events in months. “At the World Cycling Center in Switzerland I only did sprint-specific training, as they only saw me as a sprinter. But being here in South Africa for three weeks, I’ve realised that I'm an all-rounder, and my horizon has widen.
“I was and still am very happy and overwhelmed about my Points race win considering a year back I only managed to ride five laps with the bunch before I dropped out completely at 2016 SA National Champs.”
Du Preez said that she had expended too much energy early on in the race, which took its toll towards the end. “I still need to learn to ride smarter,” she said. “Even though there is still a small field of women who are racing, the level racing has definitely picked up since last year’s champs and compared to the Continental Champs two weeks ago – it feels like it's the same depth of field that is racing here. The South African girls that weren’t at the Continental Champs have also lifted their game and improved from last year, which is fantastic for women’s cycling and it is raising our level of competition.”
In the Junior Women’s category, Courtney Smith continued her impressive form adding more gold medals to her tally, when she won the Time Trial and Scratch races today.
The 2017 South African National Track Championships continue throughout the week, with the final events taking place on Saturday. For more information and results or for any updates, please visit https://www.cyclingsa.com/2017-sa-track-champs/.
Summary of Results – Elite and Juniors
Day 3 – Wednesday 5 April 2017
Elite Men Team Sprint 750m
- Western Cape (Matthew De Freitas, Jean Smith, Burton Witbooi) 48.75
- Giant (Evan Carstens, Brad Gouveris, Bernard Esterhuizen) 50.11
- Paarl United (Brandon Christians, Graeme Ockhuis, Wade Theunissen) 50.19
Elite Men Points Race 40km
- Steven van Heerden 78
- David Maree 69
- Evan Carstens 34
Elite Women Time Trial 500m
- Bernette Beyers 37.35
- Jennifer Abbott 38.63
- Charlene du Preez 39.0
Elite Women Scratch Race 10km
- Bernette Beyers
- Charlene du Preez
- Jennifer Abbott
Junior Men Team Sprint 750m
- Paarl (Whayde Davids, Waqaaru-deen Ismail, Linwill Jensen) 53.94
- VWE (Hammand Akoojee, Benedict Moqumo, Daniel Skews) 53.99
- Future Stars (Brinton Comeroden, Andries Nigrini, Tye Stainbank) 54.23
Junior Men Points Race 25km
- Jason Oosthuizen 37
- Daniyal Matthews 26
- Rickardo Broxham 19
Junior Women Scratch Race 7.5km
- Courtney Smith 12:15.55
- Jessica Brown
- Ashleigh Parsons