SA Para Team To World Cups In Europe

South Africa’s Para-cycling team departs for Europe on Sunday in preparation for the 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cups in Italy (Round 1) from 5-7 June and Switzerland (Round 2) from 13-16 June.  A very successful 2014 season yielded two UCI World Champions (Ernst Van Dyk and Pieter Du Preez), a UCI World Cup Series winner (Justine Asher) and numerous podium accolades.  The national team is motivated to repeat or improve upon this performance in 2015.

This year’s strategic aim is to maximise UCI nation points earned in order to secure a targeted number of slots for the South African Para-cycling team for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.  In parallel, the aim is also to enable the country’s best riders to take stock of their competitors and to prepare for what is required of them in terms of positioning to be Paralympic medal candidates in 2016 (there are less than 500 days to go before the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games).  Ironman athlete and Para-cycling World Champion, Pieter Du Preez, is anticipating the season ahead. 
He says:  ‘I’m ready for the World Cups.  My racing has being going well and, going in, I’m strong.  I’m also excited because it will be the first time that I will be wearing the rainbow jersey, so it’s an incredible feeling.’  World Champion, Ernst Van Dyk, will also be in Europe to compete and says:  ‘My early season training hasn’t been going too badly, I am looking forward to it, so we will see how it goes.’  Justine Asher is confident ahead of her trip to Italy, saying:  ‘I’m feeling great, but also very nervous as I have a new bike.’
With her new bike being much lighter than her previous one, Asher is hoping that this will work to her advantage, saying:  ‘I am really looking forward to the World Cup in Italy, but even more so the one in Pietermaritzburg in September.  It’s going to be wonderful to be able to host something like this in our own country.’  The 2015 World Cup and World Championships programme is a very full one, with Italian, Swiss and German World Cup events and the Swiss World Championships scheduled to follow close upon one another.  In order to ensure that certain riders do not have their performances compromised as a result of competition and travel fatigue, they will return to South Africa immediately after the Italian World Cup to prepare for the Swiss World championship and to use the immediately preceding German World Cup as final competition preparation for this.

For strategic reasons (including the prospect of claiming one or more World Cup series wins) a small group of riders will, however, remain in Europe after the Italian World Cup to compete in the Swiss World Cup, which will be hosted by the town of Yverdon-les-Bains (13-16 June).  Significantly, the South African team will be accompanied by a development rider colleague, Simon Makgobela (H5 hand-cyclist), who is entered for the Italian and Swiss World Cup events as an independent competitor.  Makgobela has great potential to excel in hand cycling. 
Assisted by saturation-level high performance support since March 2015, he is expected to benefit greatly from the international competition experience that he will gain from travelling with the national team in Europe.  This will stand him in good stead to perform to his potential as a member of the national team that will compete in the UCI World Cup event to the hosted by South Africa in Pietermaritzburg in September 2015.  Makgobela is being generously supported by grant funding received from the Department of Sport and Recreation and is being assisted with his development by Cycling South Africa.
The riders, comprising the national team, who will compete in the Italian and Swiss World Cup events, are as follows:

5-7 June 2015 – UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup #1 (Maniago, Italy)
Team Manager: Mike Burns
Ernst van Dyk (H5)
Justine Asher (H2)
Craig Ridgard (C2)
George Rex (T1)
Goldy Fuchs (T2)
Gerhard Viljoen (T2)

13-16 June – UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup #2 (Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland)
Team Manager: Mike Burns
Ernst van Dyk (H5)
Craig Ridgard (C2)
Pieter Du Preez (H1)
Photo:  n: Current UCI Para-cycling Road World Champion, Ernst van Dyk (H5 road race), is relishing the opportunity to compete in the upcoming Italian and Swiss UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup events.
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