Two South African women track cyclists were granted an opportunity of a lifetime when they accepted an invitation from the UCI (Union Internationale Cycliste) to participate in a three-month track cycling training camp at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, from September to December 2015.
A recent article on the UCI (Union Internationale Cycliste) website (UCI World Cycling Centre welcomes two of South Africa’s top women track cyclists) shares some of the insights of Odette van Deventer (18) and Bernette Beyers (23) as they pursue their cycling dreams and nurture their cycling talent on the track.
Odette took up the sport at the age of 10, when her track cyclist father bought her a track bike. It was fast, it was exciting, and the young Odette never looked back. Already successful as a Junior, in her first year as an Elite this year, she took South Africa’s national Elite Women’s title in the 500m and went on to medal at the African Continental Championships, including gold in the team sprint.
Bernette, on the other hand, only began track cycling in January this year, a few weeks before competing in the Western Cape Track Cycling Championships which went “pretty well.” Two months later, in the South African Championships, the newcomer came away with one gold medal and five silver medals, including in the time trial behind Odette.
Being the first South African women track cyclists to train at the UCI WCC has given the young women a greater sense of developing in all the facets of the sport, and they are absorbing as much as they can at the world-class facility.
“We want to develop our cycling and be competitive overseas,” explains Bernette, who has already lowered her time for 200m from 12.62 to 11.69 in her eight weeks in Switzerland.
Her training companion explains: “The track cycling community in South Africa is small. We want to get stronger and perform at a higher level. We have already improved so much. Our times are proving that.”
Their immediate goal is the South African Track Cycling Championships in 2016. However, in their six weeks remaining in Switzerland they want to continue their progression in order to gain points that could earn them starting spots in high-level international competitions such as the UCI Track Cycling World Cup. They have a very real desire to form a strong and formidable partnership for the team sprint, but for the moment are concentrating on building strength and speed.
UCI WCC coach Miguel Torres Martin is highly satisfied with their progress: “They are showing significant improvements since they arrived and are succeeding along the short term goals we are setting in different training phases. After eight weeks we have observed large improvements in their technique, strength, power profiles and overall form, both at the gym and on the track.
“We’re developing our skills but there is still so much more we can do,” says Odette, who has delayed her final school year to devote herself to cycling.
In Aigle they feel spoilt by the facilities and equipment at their disposal.
“The structure here works really well,” says Bernette. “The coaches are great and so is the equipment, the bikes, the velodrome...”
Cycling South Africa’s Track Cycling Commission Director, Johan Smith, said that he was thankful to the UCI for giving these two women this opportunity. “I find it huge that this opportunity has been given to two women, not only track cyclists, but sprinters. It’s making the sport sexy,” he said.
“It’s a wonderful discipline, and it’s necessary for us in South Africa to see it as more appealing. Track cycling combines gym work, toning and all round fitness with cycling. Sprinting makes it a sexy sport. It will definitely draw more people to the sport, I’m certain of it.
“The fact that these ladies have had this experience in the European conditions and competitive environments, gives them the opportunity to bring that knowledge back home and show the other track cyclists what they have learned,” he concluded.
During their stay, they are travelling twice to Great Britain to take part in the Manchester and Glasgow rounds of the Revolution Series. The racing experience will arm them well for the South African Championships and then the African Continental Championships.
Article edited, view the full story here: http://www.uci.ch/track/news/article/uci-world-cycling-centre-welcomes-two-south-africa-top-women-track-cyclists/