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Community cycling goes big @ Piketberg

The 3rd annual Piketberg community cycle race got underway on Sunday 7th October, and was hosted by BergRivier Municipality, in conjunction with Steynville Senior Secondary School and supported by The Sports Trust and Nedbank.

The event was co-sanctioned by the Western Province Cycling Association and Cycling SA and required detailed logistics and support from the various local traffic officials, race officials, medical support and the race marshals who were from the Community Works Programme.

At 08:00 on the day the 103 km race started at the Piketberg cricket grounds, with some of the Elite Development cyclists taking part together with Category 1 cyclists who came from Union Cycling International and other local Cape Town Clubs that drove down to compete in this race.   The route headed out of town and deep into the wheat, canola- and fruit-farming countryside. The last stretch was the magnificent but daunting 7.3 km mountain climb up the Versveld Pass.  The race officials included a “Sprint Event” and a “King of the Mountain” event, with an elevation of 689 m above sea level, which the cyclists had to fight hard for and dig deep, to make it to the top.

The Executive Mayor, Ray van Rooy, attended the prize giving ceremony which took place at the

Tollie Adams Piketberg Cricket Grounds, and commented that these events are crucial to the community as it gives them an opportunity to participate in sport, and keep the youth off the streets.  It also attracts tourism through the cyclists and visitors attending these events as well as supporting the local businesses.   As part of their commitment, the  BergRivier Municipality has invested in this event for the next few years.

The “Sprint Point Winner” winning the “Green Jersey” was Theuns Van Der Bank, from Demacon Aurecon Club, City Cycle in Cape Town, and overall  “King of the Mountain” who won the “Red Spotted Jersey” was the UCI  (Union Cycling International) cyclist from Ethiopia, Negasi Abreha.

Vuyo Mavuyo, the elite development cyclist placed 4th in this King of the Mountain race, which was a great achievement considering the fast paced nature of this competition and the level of skill and endurance required in order to climb such a formidable pass such as Versveld Pass.  The younger age groups participated in the shorter races, of 50km and 10km later that morning, which gave them an opportunity to compete under different conditions, as it was very hot and dry and they had to ensure that they kept hydrated throughout the race.

Eduardo Engelbrecht who hails from Piketberg’s Steynville High School achieved 1st place, in the U/19 category for the 50km race, and Iman Phillips took 1st Place in the U/19 Junior Category for the girls.  The very special metal cyclist trophies were made from recycled materials, and Jan Faro, from Piketberg designed and made these in honour of his son, Eduardo, as he is passionate about cycling and this is his way of giving back to this programme, which has done so much for this community.

Mike Tippett, manager of The Sports Trust Development cycling club, commented that today’s event was awesome, as the caliber of cyclists from the international teams, really raised the standard of this event, and the development cyclists rose to the challenge.

This event has elevated the profile of Piketberg as one of the sought after cycling venues and we will continue to grow this community cycle race on an annual basis. The Sports Trust development cycling programme also includes mountain bike racing, and two of the Steynville Secondary development cyclists, Eduardo Engelbrecht and Joshua Toontjies, came second and third respectively in the 2018 Western Cape Mountain Bike Championship (open age group).

‘It is so inspiring to see the ever-growing numbers of development cyclists from The Sports Trust Development Cycling Programme competing in the distinctive new Nedbank Green shirts,’ says Gerry Raftopoulos, Group Marketing Manager of the Nedbank Sport Affinity.‘

The programme supplies bikes and supports the training and participation of over 200 learners per year at the participating schools.

It is also involved with five community cycle races each year, hosted by the participating schools. Furthermore it supports an Elite Development Squad of approximately 15 cyclists who have been selected for provincial squads and are aiming at becoming national and professional cyclists.

We wish to thank the local community for their support of this race, and special thanks to Die Wielhuys, for providing the mountain bike, as the raffle prize which was won by  Kenzo Louw, from Diazville High School. The event was also supported by Stromberg who sponsored all the road cones for the event, and this is an ongoing partnership to ensure the success of these community cycling events.

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