Ernst on fire in Durban | TeamSA - TeamSA

Ernst on fire in Durban

Handcycling world champion Ernst van Dyk closed off a successful Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled, presented by SASAPD, in Durban on Wednesday with a victory in the cycle race

Van Dyk, who will attempt to win gold in the handcycling race in London in five months time, followed up his victory in the time trial by holding off upcoming cyclist Andries Scheepers in the final sprint to win by a second.

In cool and overcast conditions, a far contrast from the rest of the Nedbank Champs, Van Dyk enjoyed the race to take another step towards London and another massive milestone in his career.

On a fast course, and without the logistical hiccup from the time trial, which started late because of a misunderstanding in regulating traffic, Van Dyk powered his way to the title with a smile.

ÔÇ£Yesterday was not that good, we sat around for four hours in the sun before we could start and by the time we got going it was hot and the wind had picked up. So it wasn’t close to the time I wanted it to be, but today the road race was perfect,ÔÇØ Van Dyk said afterwards.

ÔÇ£The conditions were cool, we got going on time and the course was safe and the competition was quite tight. The speed in the race averaged at over 37km/h, which is fairly fast and is a good indication of the depth that we have in the sport.

ÔÇ£Every course differs. The time wasn’t such a factor but the average speed was an indication that it was fast. If you think the able-bodied cyclists may do a 41km/h average, then it shows we were going fast.ÔÇØ

Van Dyk believes his preparation for London is on course, but also sees the bigger picture in helping younger athletes prepare themselves for their future in the cycling events.

ÔÇ£It was a good indicator of form and a good measure of where you are in your preparations. The most important thing about coming to Nationals though is to give the younger guys an opportunity to compete against you, or even on the same course as you and to see how they will do,ÔÇØ he explained.

ÔÇ£That exposure to the younger athletes goes a long way and it helps to build future champs for us.ÔÇØ

Next up for Van Dyk is the Boston Marathon, a race which he has won the wheelchair marathon section nine times, followed by the London Marathon and then back to the Handcycle for the start of the World Cup races in Europe as a final preparation for the Paralympics.

This time however, he won’t be looking for his 10th victory in Boston, as his focus is more on the handcycling event.

ÔÇ£I’m not going for the win this year, because I haven’t trained in the wheelchair marathon at this stage, it’s not a focus for me. I’ll be going for my 10th victory next year. This year I decided if I want a medal in handcycling in London I need to focus and need a very specific approach and I’ve been following that so I haven’t been in a racing chair for many months,ÔÇØ he said.

The cycling event was the highlight on the last day of competition which earlier saw Oscar Pistorius pull out of the 400m race because of a niggling injury as a precaution.

For most athletes the wait is now for the final selection for London as they look ahead to realise their dreams of winning gold in London.

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