A South African female rider will be the first to win a medal in a pro-elite race at the UCI World Road Championship.
That is what the professional teams that have invested in South African Women’s cycling have predicted for the last few years.
Carla Swart (MTN-Energade) so nearly proved the prophecy correct over the weekend in Geelong, Australia when she finished 10th in the women’s race over 127.2km.
With a little bit of luck she just might have been able to pull off the long elusive historic first podium finish for South Africa.
Only three seconds separated the first ten riders in the race which finished in sprint to the line.
Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini won in 3 hours 32 minutes and 01 seconds with Marianne Vos (Netherlands) second and Emma Johansson (Sweden) third. Swart’s performance is still the best ever by a South African in pro-elite World Championship race.
Swart’s team mates, Robyn de Groot and Marissa van der Merwe came in 41st and 42nd, seven minutes and 40 seconds after the leaders, with Anriette Schoeman a few minutes behind.
Unfortunately Cherise Taylor suffered a mechanical early on in the race and had to withdraw.
What is exciting if one studies the women’s results is the fact that it certainly is starting to look more and more as if Swart will be able to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India.
Britain’s Nicole Cooke who finished 4th, and Elizabeth Armitstead also from Brittain who was 9th are the only Commonwealth riders who could outride Swart.
“Swart joined MTN Energade in 2009 when we registered as the first ever South African based UCI Continental Womens Team.” says Doug Ryder, Team Owner. “It was her performances in US Collegiate racing that caught the attention of Dr Carol Austin (Team MTN Energade Coach).” With our team Carla has had the opportunity to race and develop at a world class level. She spent a large portion of the 2010 season racing world cups and major stage races with her MTN teammates in Europe.
Following her impressive results Swart signed with international powerhouse HTC-Columbia for the 2011 season. “Over the past 18-months Carla has set progressively bold goals for herself which we have supported 100%,” says Dr Carol Austin. “She has taken the fast-track to becoming one of the hottest young talents in global womens cycling. We are very proud of her.”
Her focus is now on a medal at the Commonwealth Games, Dehli.
Norway’s Thor Hushovd won the men’s race over 267.2km in 6 hours 21 minutes and 49 seconds. Matti Breschi (Sweden) was second and Allan Davis (Australia) third.