By: Kurt Begemann – Junior High-Performance Track Manager
After the recent 2018 S.A. National Track Championships held in December, and then the recent African Continental Track Championships held in January, it is evident that we are currently witnessing some of the strongest junior track riders, the country has seen in recent years. There is a healthy level of competitiveness which should do well to raise the level of performance at the 2019 SA Track Championships due to be held March 26 to 31.
Junior World Track Championships – Germany 14-18 August 2019
STEP 1: SA TRACK CHAMPS, 26 - 31 March 2019.
If you are a junior track cyclist with aspiration to attend the 2019 Junior World Track Championships, your next focus must be SA Track Champs (Bellville Velodrome) in March. This will be a mandatory event for you to attend. Riders not participating at SA National Track Championships WILL NOT be considered for the National Team at all.
STEP 2: NATIONAL TIME STANDARDS
Winning a National Title at Nationals will not guarantee you a slot on the Junior National Team for Junior Worlds, 2019. It is a good result, and this performance may be considered. But the only way to guarantee yourself a place on the National Team roster for Junior Worlds, is to hit the National Time Standards set below. The Time Standards are set as a bench mark to gauge your engine against those you will be racing against in Europe. If you can hit the Time Standards, then you have a very good chance of doing well. If you can’t hit the time standards, then it is pointless going to Junior Worlds, as you will be eliminated in the qualifying races, and garner very little experience.
It must be noted here that at the Junior level, riders expecting to do bunch events such as Keirin or Points Races, will be expected to take part in the time standards of Flying 200 meter and Individual Pursuit, respectively. At the junior level, riders are still developing, and while we recognize a rider’s preference of sprinter versus endurance rider, all riders targeting sprint events, must be willing to do all the sprint time standards. All riders targeting endurance events must be willing to do all the endurance time standards. Please note that the Time Standards are the main component for selection of the Junior National Team. Should you win all the bunch events at Nationals, but not achieve the Time Standard, you will not be selected to attend Junior Track Worlds. We have sent our best riders in the past, but they have not been strong enough to get past the qualification rounds. This has been a waste of time and money. Hitting the Time Standards indicates that you have the “engine” to make it through to the next round and possibly into the finals.
STEP 3: NATIONAL TRAINING CAMP (Tentative Date: June 17 - 23)
It has been said, on a number of occasions by commissaries at Junior Worlds, that the riders participating from the continent of Africa, at Junior Worlds, have amongst the least track experience in the entire peloton. This is not only portrayed in our results, but also in the way we execute our races. Tactics, positioning in the field, track etiquette, everything.
As such, we need to up our game BEFORE any riders attend Junior Worlds in August. This will be done in the form of a National Track Training Camp, during the month of July. All riders selected for Junior Worlds, after steps 1 and 2, will be required to attend the National Track Camp. The only riders exempted from this camp are SA Junior Track riders selected to attend the World Cycling Centre in Switzerland.
I understand that riders who take part in track, often also take part in the road. Certainly, both disciplines complement each other, and all riders should be encouraged to participate in both disciplines. But at some point, during the season, one discipline needs to become a priority over the other.
If your intention is to go to the Junior World Track Cycling Championships in 2019, where you will be competing against the rest of the world’s best riders, then your priority over the June school holidays, needs to be this Training Camp, and not a mid-week criterium in the suburbs of Holland or Belgium.
There is value in garnering overseas racing experience on the road, but there needs to be a balanced that still allows for the specificity of track. It is possible to do both, but riders will need to be smart about how they handle their time and their finances. Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Geraint Thomas and a host of other accomplished road riders made the discipline of track their priority as junior riders. And they still managed to make it onto professional road teams and achieve major success on the road as Elites. After leaving the junior ranks at 19 years of age, there is still 3 to 4 years while you are in the Under 23 system, which is plenty of time to make an impact on the road.
If a rider cannot commit to this training camp, then they lack the commitment to the program, imperative for them to perform at Junior Track Worlds, and they will not be considered for the National Team.
For further information, please contact:
Kurt Begemann (Junior Track Cycling High Performance Manager)