Youth Champs’ race of truth

The 2019 Youth Road Cycling National Championships kicks off on Saturday morning in Camperdown with the country’s top junior cyclists locked in a battle with the clock as they race each other in the time trial events.

The two-day championships consist of time trials on Saturday at Camperdown and the mass-start road races on the M13 loop in Westville on Sunday. Riders in the U19, U17, U15, U13 and U11 age categories will compete in both formats for both girls and boys.

The relatively flat time-trial course in Camperdown will see riders competing against the clock over distances that range from 8km for the under11s up to 23,6km (two laps of a 11,8km course) and 35,4km (three laps) for the U19 girls and boys respectively.

One of the most keenly contested events looks likely to be in the U19 boys where Gauteng’s Tiano da Silva and Travis Stedman, the U17 champion from 2018, are shaping up to lock horns in an epic battle against the clock.

Da Silva, who was fifth in the top age group last year, is the top finisher in the field from the 2018 U19 age group, which should make him the pre-race favourite.

KZN hopes of a win in the U19 boys category could rest on the shoulders of Travis Stedman at the 2019 SA Youth Road Cycling National Championship. Photo: Tim Whitfield

However there is a particularly strong group of last year’s U17s who have stepped into the U19 bracket for Saturday’s race and Stedman is being tipped as a rider who could collect a rare double championship gold for two years in a row.

Alvin Gillespie Bronkhorst, who was also a top-10 finisher in the time trial last year cannot be discounted, while the three favourites for the podium positions are sure to face a stiff challenge from Dian Janjetich, Dillon Geary and Christiaan Klopper, who all chased Stedman home in the U17 race in Oudtshoorn and ended in the top five positions.

The girls U19 time trial also promises some thrills with last year’s runner up, Kelsey Jade van Schoor, the hot favourite to take a short step up the podium and claim the gold medal. The Eastern Cape rider was a year younger than most of her rivals in 2018, but she only finished a minute off the blistering pace set by Tiffany Keep in Oudtshoorn just over 12 months ago.

A dark horse in the U19 women’s category is Frances Janse van Rensburg from KZN. Photo: Tim Whitfield

If she can repeat her ride from then, it is hard to see anybody beating her over the two-lap course in Camperdown. Her biggest challenge looks likely to come from 2018 U17 bronze medallist Charlissa Schultz from the Western Cape or her Eastern Cape teammate Mischka Strydom.

KZN’ Frances Janse van Rensburg comes into the event as something of an unknown at the national championships after she opted not to ride in 2018. She is a star at the local races and could be the dark horse who ends up with a gold medal.

The girls U17 age groups looks like a repeat battle from 2018 with the top two from Oudtshoorn, Free State’s Chante Olivier and KZN’s Chloe Bateson, facing off once again. Last year Olivier enjoyed a 37-second victory over Bateson and it will take a supreme effort from the KwaZulu-Natal local to overturn that deficit and record a home-town win.

With most of the strong U17 boys category in Oudtshoorn moving up an age group, the way has been cleared for the U15 class of 2018 to challenge for this year’s U17 title. On the basis of last year’s form Bertie Emmett Anderson from Gauteng will be expected to claim the top step of the podium, but the Western Cape’s Daniel Grobbelaar was less than 30 seconds behind and he is sure to be a contender, along with the Eastern Cape’s Simon Ferreira and KZN local Jordan Bold.

The U15 boys event looks likely to pit last year’s bronze medallist, Adriaan van Zyl from the Western Cape, up against young Mpumalanga star Francois Jacobus de Jager, who claimed the gold medal in the U13 bracket last year, and the Western Cape’s Adrian van Zyl, who was third.

The girls U15 race could be a repeat of the U13 event from Oudtshoorn with the top three from a year ago, Jessie Munton, Mienke Boshoff and Chanica Botes all stepping up an age group for the 2019 race, while Kita Uys, fourth in the U15 race last time out, will be flying the flag for the class of 2018.

In the U13 races the riders to watch include Ruan Cloete, Alessandro Fanicchi and Sizwe Mdhluli in the boys, while Jana and Mina van der Walt and Danel de Jager are expected to lead the charge in the girls event.