Members make mark at national champs
Port Elizabeth-based cycling team African Pride emerged as the most successful side at the South African Championships held recently in Wellington.
The newly formed team consists of four talented young cyclists, who clinched two gold and two bronze medals in the competition.
Kelsey van Schoor, 15, secured the first gold medal for the team in the women’s U17 time trial category, while Mischka Strydom, 14, brought home the bronze medal for the team.
Monique Gerber, 20, competing in the U23 time trial category, received a bronze medal.
Kelsey managed to beat the time set by the winner of the U19 category.
The humid weather condimen tions proved to be a challenge for the team on race day as road temperatures reached a high of 53°C.
Monique, who is a former African Continental champion, said: “We were fortunate enough to visit the venue to train and familiarise ourselves with the course as well as to acclimatise before the actual race began.
“I believe we were well prepared because we knew what our bodies could do to get the best performance.
“It was different from what we had been accustomed to but we made it work.”
Manager and coach Frans Gerber said: “The young woare constantly improving. They work very hard to keep a balance with their school work. African Pride are the best female cyclists to come from this area in the country.
“The team is extremely talented and we are looking to do well in all the competitions we participate in this year.
“The youngest and most improving rider on the team, Mischka, had a bit of bad luck at the start of her road race when a gear cable on her bike snapped just before the start.
“She had to start riding a full five minutes after the bunch had pulled off. She showed a lot of resilience to come back and get fifth position.”
Framesby High pupil Mischka said: “Keeping a balance with school work and training can be a challenge sometimes but I always ride in the mornings and focus on my school work during the day.”
African Pride anticipate conquering The Herald Continental Cycle Tour on Sunday.
Two weeks later they will compete in the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and later this year will tackle the Track South African Champs, also to be held in Cape Town.
The team was formed at the beginning of this year after the girls had been training together but participated as individuals. Although they race as a team, the results are recorded individually. Members of the team would sacrifice themselves for one member to win.
The team’s fourth member, Anja Gerber, who also competes in the U23 category, did not participate in the South African Championships due to a heart condition that developed in December.