South African road cyclist Zanele Tshoko has been invited by the UCI (International Cycling Union) to take part in the African Women’s Cycling Team Training Camp at the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, from 9 June – 1 August 2016.
During this time, Tshoko will take part in a number of European races as part of the training camp.
The races are as follows:
12 June 2016 – Radsporttage Gippingen 2016
19 June 2016 – GP Presilly
3 July 2016 – Prix de Vuillecin Femmes
17 July 2016 – Sierre-Loye
31 July 2016 – Prix de Valdahon
When asked about what the opportunity means for Tshoko, she said: “Something like this only comes around once in a lifetime. It means a lot, and it’s a great opportunity that I intend on grabbing with both hands.”
Tshoko began cycling at the age of 12, where she joined a safe cycling programme introduced by Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy. “They taught us about how to ride a bicycle and about all the rules and safety of the road,” she said. After beginning to win the races she took part in, Tshoko soon realised that she really did love cycling. “It was in my heart, and I wanted to achieve more and succeed in life,” she added.
Now 23-years-old, Tshoko said that being able to represent her team and country is a huge honour. “It's a great way and opportunity to inspire other up-and-coming young female cyclists like myself. It feels like a dream – it’s going to be my first time training and racing in Europe,” she said.
The Time Freight eTeam rider feels that the opportunity is an indication of how much she has grown as a cyclist. “It’s all about believing in yourself, following your heart, determination, dedication to the love of cycling and the belief that anything is possible,” she added.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cycling South Africa, the UCI World Cycling Centre, and Time Freight for supporting me in making this dream become a reality. I never thought something like this would happen so soon in my cycling career. I always saw it as a dream to be able to go to Europe and represent my country,” she said.
Being part of the African team, Tshoko feels, will also help her to meet riders from other nations, and keep learning throughout. “I'm so excited - I can't wait to experience this new chapter within my cycling journey,” she said.
Tshoko knows that racing in Europe will be far different to racing at home, but is ready to push herself, adapt, and grow. She represented South Africa at the All Africa Games in the Congo last year, and for her, the event was life changing. “Now something even bigger is about to happen in my cycling career.”
Cycling South Africa Women’s Commission Director and Time Freight eTeam Manager, Lise Olivier said that she is very excited to see Tshoko jet-setting off to Switzerland, and that the opportunity off the bike, not only on, is a whole new experience for the athlete.
“The whole process of applying for a visa, having to board an international flight alone and making the necessary arrangements to travel abroad is teaching her skills that she will be able to apply later in life. In the Time Freight eTeam we mentor our athletes to be able to do just that,” she added.
Olivier said that Tshoko is an incredibly hard working athlete, who is focused on continuous improvement. “She asks the right questions and then quickly learns all the skills that are needed to make it in the cycling industry. Over the past couple of months she has trained extremely hard and with the additional help and support that she will receive at the World Cycling Centre, she has what she needs to succeed,” she said.
“We are hoping that this opportunity for Zanele and the other athletes involved will inspire even more young upcoming athletes to pursue their dreams in a similar fashion,” said Olivier.
World Cycling Centre Africa Director, Jean-Pierre Van Zyl said: “This is an opportunity for Zanele to get the exposure of the levels of international and to gain all-important knowledge and experience.
“Who knows, either she will do extremely well, or learn very valuable lessons and gain the knowledge needed to ride at that level in the future.”
Van Zyl highlighted the importance of the camp for the African women attending. “In the same way that Dimension Data has exposed African men’s teams to International racing standards, we are hoping that we can one day have something similar with African women cyclists. There are great women riders in Africa, and this is a wonderful opportunity for some of them to experience.”