Junior Track talent in the spotlight at cycling camp

Junior track racing talent came into the spotlight at a recent training camp that was held during the school holidays at the Bellville Velodrome in Western Cape from 3-8 July 2018. Serving to seek out and identify talent in track racing environment, the SA Cycling Junior National Track Cycling Camp also served as a Development Camp for under-17 and Junior level riders who have the intent of representing their country at future international tournaments.

National Junior High Performance Track Cycling Manager, Kurt Begemann put the 15 riders through their paces daily from 08:30 to 16:30 with only a short break for lunch at noon.

“The training camp is a comprehensive curriculum that covers both Sprint and Endurance events whereby all riders have to tackle both disciplines,” said Begemann. “At their relatively young age, they are generally still inexperienced enough and have little point of reference to what they may be good at.”

Riders were also given opportunities to tackle the SA Junior National Time Standards, which were developed as accurate reference points to the world’s best Juniors from previous UCI World Championships. Conditions were not ideal as the temperatures inside the Velodrome averaged between 12 and 16 degrees for the entire week, which definitely hindered the athletes’ performance. Storm King came closest to hitting the Sprint Qualifiers, and Mathew Fortuin came closest to hitting the Endurance Qualifiers.

“Storm will age up and out of the Junior category at the end of this season,” said Begemann. “But the remaining 14 riders will remain Juniors for 2019, while all the u17 riders will still have a couple of seasons ahead of them in the Junior category. The camp showed a promising outlook for the young riders if they choose to focus on the discipline of Track Cycling as a major goal.”

Begemann went on to say that “history has shown us that Track was always a complimentary discipline for many of the country’s leading riders. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, most of the South African road professionals raced on the track but used it primarily to complement their road racing. Unfortunately, that's not good enough anymore for riders who want to go to the world stage of Track Cycling. Other countries don’t send riders to UCI World Championships to merely participate; they’re going there to perform well, and you can only do that with dedicated training to the specific events.”

With many of the events within the track discipline being team events – such as Team Pursuit, Madison, or Team Sprint – it takes time to develop the cohesive nature between team members that is essential in order for teams to succeed.

“These are highly specialised events whereby riders need to be trained and developed as a team unit. If we can get that message across to the younger riders now and get them to start training the disciplines as a unit, then they will all have a better chance of success at national and international Level,” continued Begemann.

The South African National Track Cycling Championships will be held in December at the Bellville, Velodrome, where Begemann hopes to see the same 15 youngsters taking their performance to the next level.

The 15 riders who took part in the Junior National Track Cycling Camp were: Alexander Craddock, Richard Torrington, Stefan Marais, Storm King, Mathew Fortuin, Jason Bruintjies, Jonathan Bouwer, Abdul and Salaaghuddeen Jacobs, James Swart, Jacques Bredenkamp, Tyler Lange, Siphiwe Mhatha, Njabulo Mdhluli and Daniel Grobbelaar.