'Pocket Rocket' eyes SA champs
EIGHT-TIME national road race champion Anriette Schoeman will have another bite at the cherry when she takes on South Africa's cycling elite at the annual championships in Durban this weekend. Schoeman, who will race in the colours of Bestmed-Africa Silks, said she believed she still had another title in her after winning the 106km Classic at The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
"I never go to a race if I don't think I stand a chance," the 36-year-old Port Elizabeth-based pro said. "I've been national elite champion eight times and it's always special when you wear the green and gold band."
Schoeman will face stiff competition from the likes of Olympian Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, who races internationally for UCI pro team Hitec Products. "Ashleigh is always strong and has had a fantastic base and training camp with her new team so, yes, she will probably be the one to watch."
It should be an interesting tussle between the two cyclists, who each hold a title in the two biggest road races in South Africa. Moolman-Pasio beat Schoeman to the line in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge in November, while Schoeman claimed her seventh win in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour earlier in the year.
Schoeman said she had not had a chance to ride the national championships course but did not believe it would affect her odds. "I've trained hard and at the end of the day it's the same for every rider."
She said she was hoping to make the team for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July.
After almost two decades in the sport, Schoeman said she was looking forward to her new role as brand ambassador for Bestmed. As part of her responsibilities, she will participate in the eight cycling events sponsored by the medical aid company. "It's fantastic that they are willing to invest in cycling and I feel privileged to be part of it."
The company also sponsors the Bestmed ASG women's team. Bestmed ASG team boss Owen Botha, who previously managed Schoeman as part of the Nashua women's cycling team, said he was delighted to have her on board.
"Anriette has a cult-like following in South Africa and her record speaks for itself."
Although she will not be part of his 14-strong team, Botha said he hoped his young riders would follow her example.
"Her professionalism over the years has always remained high. This dedication and attention to detail will hopefully rub off on the youngsters."