Top notch talent exposed as track cyclists race for national pride

It wasn’t only the Elites that brought their A-game to the 2019 SA TRACK National Championships held at the Bellville Velodrome from 26-31 March, but the Youth, Junior and Masters’ categories aimed sky high to deliver some of the best racing action and a couple of broken records to boot!

Cycling South Africa’s Track Commission Director, Kurt Begemann, was impressed by the level of racing, particularly in the Junior category, but he made particular mention of the Masters’ categories and the value that they bring to the sport.

“Since the 2017 UCI Track Juniors World Championships, we put some time standards in place to serve as targets for our young riders, whereby they knew that they had to reach these targets to be able to compete internationally against the world’s best,” said Kurt, who also serves as the Junior High Performance Manager for the federation. “I’m proud to say that these standards were achieved by the male juniors in the Team Pursuit, making excellent progress in their racing development. It shows that if our riders have something to aim for, then they can use that target as a measuring stick for their profession.”

Speaking about the Masters’ racing, Kurt added: “New records were set, which is always positive for the sport as there is still so much serious competition in the age categories. I was pleased to see the healthy Masters’ Women field, which is also a great improvement for the growth of the sport. By having enough riders, it was the first time that we were able to run a Team Pursuit for the Masters’ Women!” said Kurt.

Notable performances of the event included four new records set in the “1500 metre dash” on the first day, South Africa’s favourite short scratch race. Dominique Saville from KwaZulu-Natal became the first U11 Girl to set a National Record in the 1500 metre Scratch Final, posting a time of 2:29:01. Dominique is part of the KZN Future Stars programme. Gauteng’s Kyla Uys continued her excellent form across the cycling disciplines (she is also proficient in BMX and Road) broke the previous U13 Girls record of 2:24:91 and set a new time of 2:17:31. Later in the competition, Kyla also went on to break the U13 Girls Individual Pursuit Record by almost 5 seconds. Old record was 2:19:40, and her new record is 2:14:47.

Staying with the Individual Pursuit, Gustav Roller (Gauteng) broke the U13 Boys Record from 2:14:96 to 2:14:18; and Ethan Kulsen (Western Cape) broke the U15 Boys Record from 2:03:75 to 2:01:11.

Not to be outdone, her sister Kita (who holds the same cycling talents) also broke the U15 Girls 1500 metre dash, breaking the previous record of 2:12:04 with the new time of 2:10:47. Kita continued her record-breaking streak by breaking the U15 Girls 500 metre Time Trial Record. The old time was 40:25, and her new time is 39:65.

In the Masters’ Category, Grenville Scullard also from Gauteng broke the 55-59 age group 1500 metre record by just over two seconds. The previous record was 2:00:97, and his new time is 1:58:09. Day three saw two flying 200 metre Time Trial Records broken in the Masters’ Sprint Categories: Grenville Scullard (Gauteng) broke the 55-59 Men’s Masters record from 11:74 to 11:65; and Gerrit Schepers (Gauteng) broke the 60-64 Men’s Masters’ record from 12:42 to 12:16.

In her first year as an Elite, former Junior National Champion, Courtney Smith (Bioplus/Panda) took her first Elite Women’s 1500 metre title by beating team mate Claudia Gnudi and Dani Van Niekerk (Independent). By the end of the competition, Charlene Du Preez would dominate the Elite Women’s Sprint events, winning the Keirin, the Match Sprints, and the 500 metre Time Trial. The women’s Points Race was one of the most aggressive races of Day Two, with both Dani Van Niekerk (Independent) and Victoria Bester (EMS Cycling) launching multiple attacks during the event, either between sprints or on sprint laps. But it was the experience of Maroesjka Matthee (EMS Cycling) who eventually triumphed over Van Niekerk (Independent) and Bester (EMS Cycling). Both riders in second and third place finished the race on equal points, and it had to go down to order of finish to determine silver and bronze.

Joshua Van Wyk (Office Guru) won a tightly contested Elite Men’s Elimination Race, with a thrilling “come-from-behind” move with four laps to go, to squeeze out both Steven Van Heerden and Nolan Hoffman (both TEAM ENZA) for the top spot on the podium. The Men’s Elite Points Race was a very tough battle with the best Endurance Track Riders all taking the line. The end podium comprised the same riders as 2018, but in a different order. This time the winner was David Maree, over Steven Van Heerden and Nolan Hoffman, (all three riders from Team Enza).

Tyler Lange (Western Cape) showed his dominance by winning both the U17 Boys 500 metre Time Trial Points Race. By the end of the week, he would add another gold in the Scratch Race and the Match Sprint. The U17 Boys Match Sprint Competition was amongst the most tightly contested sprint contests, with the final between Lange and James Swart (KZN) going to the best of three heats.

The Masters’ Women category was dominated by Bianca Holfskamp (Western Cape) who won both the Keirin and the Scratch Race.

To view the updated records’ sheets, click here: