South African track cyclist Charlene du Preez has been on a mission to garner UCI points in order to qualify for the 2019 UCI Track World Cups starting in November, with the most recent podium position awarded at the Dublin Track Cycling International (UCI/C1) race in Ireland from 6-7 July where Charlene finished in third place.
Putting in some solid miles on the track this year, her campaign has included some valuable time overseas at UCI-accredited races, where her results are steadily climbing.
Earlier this year, Charlene participated in the South African Track National Championships in Cape Town at the end of March, followed by her cycling club’s – Black Line – sprint event in Derby (UK) on 27 May. These events were all part of Charlene’s lead up to the international UCI races in June, beginning with the GP Brno Track Cycling (UCI/C1) in Czech Republic from 15-16 June, the Cottbuser SprintCup in Germany (UCI/C1) from 22-23 June and the Dublin Track Cycling International (UCI/C1) race in Ireland from 6-7 July.
The third place in Dublin has been a highlight of the season so far, and Charlene is excited for the rest of the events that are on the cards.
“It is going well but the aim is not to be at peak performance now, so we take this as part of my training,” said Charlene. “As long as I maintain my current ranking, I should qualify for the UCI World Cups, which start in November. There are also many external factors that have an effect and not everything always goes as planned, such as traveling back and forth whilst I'm still working part time, so I have to make sure to get back as soon as possible, work a day or two before heading out for the next race if the racing is on back-to-back weekends. It becomes more challenging because this results in a lack of sleep, extra stress and it can have a big effect mentally as well. But I’m remaining positive and taking each day and each race on its own and learning something new every time.”
Charlene has recorded some personal best times, recording 11.454 on an indoor track for the flying 200m at the club event. “That was quite pleasing because I didn't really taper for that race, so I'm looking forward to see times closer to November. All the other tracks we've been racing at are all outdoor, different lengths, so it's not really comparable. Still happy with the times on the outdoor tracks too,” she said.
With some big events and new times behind her, Charlene feels good about the season that lies ahead of her. “I know I am still learning a lot – it is one thing to be faster, but the sprint and keirin in track cycling is a very tactical game and the best way to learn is with racing experience.”
Charlene’s busy calendar involves these races next on the list:
18-20 July in Italy for 2 races.
26-28 July in Fans, Le Mans
23 August in Dudenhofen, Germany
30 Aug - 1 Sept in Lithuania