Cycling South Africa, its partners and KwaZulu-Natal Sport & Recreation are a week away from hosting the 2015 KZN Autumn Series that takes place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on 27th April, 1st May and 3rd May 2015. The series consists of three UCI 1.2 road cycling races. Cyclists and teams know all to well what UCI points mean to them, but to the supporters and spectators, it often seems like a foreign language to them.
Cycling SA Road Cycling Commission Director, Bosseau Boshoff, says the importance of hosting such races to the riders, and the nation as a whole cannot be underestimate: ‘Hosting events like these are very important for us as a nation. It’s brilliant for the sport because it attracts riders from all over the world. This improves the level of riding dramatically. This is so good for our riders as well because they are improving more and more by having to compete at the same level as the international visitors.’ He mentioned that this would encourage higher levels of training and commitment, but also give leverage to the quality of South African riders: ‘In terms of African rankings, we are just behind Algeria, because of the amount of UCI events that they have held there. To get the number one spot in the continental rankings would see us qualify another rider for the Olympics.’
Boshoff also spoke about the incredible transformation that Africa has gone through to become a great cycling continent: ‘A few years back, just to be able to own a bike would get you high up there in the continental rankings. But there has been such a dramatic change over the past few years and a massive increase in the level of cycling across the continent. Algeria and Eritrea are in a league of their own, with professional cyclists and touring riders. The SA Elite guys chatted to me after African Continental Road Champs, and just said that although the results say that we dominated, it was very far from. The other countries were hot on the heels of the South African riders and definitely pushed them to fight harder.’ Team Abantu team principal, Dean Edwards says: ‘Look, the guys are really excited about this event. On the weekends they’re doing up to 100km rides, and now the idea doing 150-200 plus km events has got them really keen. They’re not accustomed to these lengths so it’s good for them. As much fun as it is to have these fun rides and events on the weekends, its also so fantastic to see Cycling SA getting on board with more professional races and ones with important UCI points. For supporters and outsiders, the points system can be complex. But what it comes down to, in essence, is that your points you earn at UCI events gives you an international ranking.’
Like Boshoff, Edwards also stressed the importance of hosting UCI events in South Africa: ‘It’s elevating our sport massively. It’s really taking it to new heights. It’s very important, and so good for the selling of the sport as well. Having races like this right here in our backyard makes it easier to attend, and not spend thousands on going over to Europe to have to participate in events such as this one. For us as Team Abantu competing in our home province of KZN, we are getting a home advantage, as well as being able to compete at international levels.’ Team Abantu will be all systems go just in time for the three events in less than two weeks, despite a nasty crash during the South African National Track Championships, which left both HB Kruger and Nolan Hoffman with a few bumps and bruises.
Edwards says: ‘HB definitely got most of the grazes, but Nolan took the greater impact. We were really worried about his (Hoffman’s) back, but after the X-rays came back fine, it was rest and rehab for the week. He has lost a week of training, but rather that than him being in pain. We are behind him and hope he continues to heal up well by next weekend.’ For more information about the KZN Autumn Series, click here:http://www.cyclingsa.com/kzn-
Photo: The 2015 KZN Autumn Series will take place in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on the 27th April, the1st May and the 3rd May 2015. © craigdutton.com