Updated: Jun 27, 2018
A record 130 cyclists from The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme competed in the year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour (CTCT), and 129 of them completed the race. Times of 3:6 and 3:7 were achieved by Vuyolwethu Nkomo and Olwethu Nodolo, both from Khayelitsha; two of the 15 cyclists in the Elite Development Cycling Squad, which is part of the programme. Nine of them achieved sub 3:30 times, which is an outstanding achievement. Men’s winner Nolan Hoffman came in at 2:37:30.
‘It was an incredible day in the most perfect of conditions and for each of the cyclists it was their own special journey,’ says Mike Tippet, the Cycling Development Manager for The Sports Trust. The elite riders came in at about the 1200 mark out of the 35 000 cyclists in this year’s CTCT. They would naturally have preferred sub-3hour rides and they will get there. What they experienced is how tough the competition is against the top cyclists, which is an important part of the learning curve.
‘What is so exciting is to see the personalities of the cyclists developing and the confidence with which they participated in the event, and bonded as a unit. It was developing cycling come of age and it is an extremely exciting time for the programme.’
Of the 130 participants, 42 were transported to Cape Town from the Boland and West Coast the day before the event. Transport and accommodation was organised by- and paid for by the programme. ‘On the Saturday they were briefed by the Vice-Chair of the Western Province Cycling Federation, Sharief Peters, who also sits on the executive of the Pedal Power Association. This was is 21st CTCT and he spoke them through the route and how to do it, and boosted their mental preparation.
‘On the day we were incredibly proud to see the development cyclists riding with such skill and determination in their new Nedbank Sports Trust kit,” says Gerry Raftopoulos, Marketing Manager of the Nedbank Sport Affinity. ‘Cycling is taking off in a big way in all the Western Cape communities the programme serves, as is evidenced by the 2018 CTCT entrance of 130 cyclists, which is an increase of 40 development cyclists on the 2017 figure of 90 CTCT entrants.”
The Nedbank Sport Affinity has funded the programme since it started in 2005. It has taken the sport of cycling into 12 underresourced Western Cape high schools and their communities, notably the Cape Flats, Kraaifontein, the West Coast and Boland. Each year, between 180 and 220 development cyclists participate in the programme.
“Over the past couple of years the programme has seen such vast improvement in the all-round performance of the development cyclists, that the Elite Development Cycling Squad was created in 2017. Members of the elite squad have been selected to represent Western Province and potentially South Africa,” says Tippett. ‘We didn’t realise how soon this programme would produce talent like this, in addition to positively influencing these young people’s lives.’
‘We have put a lot of effort into the training, nurturing and recruiting young cyclists, and we are very excited about its exponential growth of cycling in these underresourced areas in the Western Cape, including a growing number of girls, with 32 riding in this year’s CTCT,’ adds Tippett. ‘We work closely with the principals and educators in our participating schools to promote and manage cycling, and several have done an outstanding job.’
Tippett adds that the elite development squad is getting focused attention in terms of structured training, nutrition, mental development and professional input from the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. Nicholas Dlamini, who won the overall King of the Mountain title in the 810 km Tour Down Under in Australia in January this year, has been mentoring the elite development cyclists. He is from Khayelitsha, and the cyclists idolise him and take in everything he says about training, strategic racing and mental attitude.
‘We will also be looking to upgrade our top riders’ bikes – it’s essential if they are to compete at the top level,’ says Tippett. ‘Our approach is that our riders need to work for this, and we expect them to complete their matrics with good results before we look at trying to find placements for them in professional cycling and/or high performance sport academies.’
Careers in cycling and elite sport management are also available, and two of our elite development cyclists, Olwethu Nodolo and Power Maribeni who are mentoring the school cyclists, have attended cycling management programmes. ‘We have a lot planned for this year, including working with Zaida Davids, a woman educator from Beacon Hill High in Mitchells Plain, who did her first CTCT this year, and is a role model for the girls,’ says Tippett. ‘There are far more girls coming through now and this is adding to the excitement of the programme, now in its 13th year.”