By Mark Etheridge
With two grands prix under the belt already, the South African squad competing at the South East Asia Grand Prix track cycling series already have nine medals to show off.
The team were scheduled to compete at three grands prix events, all in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
South Africa took on teams from host nation Malaysia, France, Singapore and Uzbekistan.
Said team later Annerine Wenhold after the SA squad won three medals in the first grand prix: “We were very satisfied with these results, as the quality of riding is high, and the extreme heat and humidity is making riding conditions challenging.
“Oupa Maluleke and HB Kruger ┬ácontested the Elite men Omnium (an endurance event which consisted of six individual events:┬áflying lap, points race, elimination, 3km individual pursuit, scratch race and a 1000m time trial).
“With 20 starters, our riders did well to finish 8th (HB) and 9th (Oupa) respectively.┬á HB performed especially well by riding a strong individual pursuit and finishing second by 0.1s in that event. Oupa’s best place finish was in the Points race where he secured a fourth position.”
The competition was won by Timur Gumerov (Uzbekistan) with 18 points and Kruger and Maluleke ended with 58 and 61 points respectively.
“Our only women rider on the squad, Maroesjka Matthee, secured a bronze medal in the Elite ladies Omnium event.┬á Although few in numbers, the racing was competitive.┬áThe chase for podium positions was always between herself, Laurie Berthon (Vaulzen Velin), Jupha Som Net (Malaysia) and Siew Kheng Dinah Chan (Cycleworx Singapore).”
Stefan de Bod also strongly in both races, and clinching a fourth in the Scratch Race.
“At the recently held South African Track Championships Eugene Soule was awarded the best Junior rider of the Championships and he represented SA in the Junior Sprint races.
“He did well by securing a fifth place in the Keirin event on day one where he was racing against predominantly Malaysian riders.┬á On day two, he improved on his performance by finishing in an excellent fourth position in the individual sprint.
Moving on to Grand Prix 2 and it was an important event for our Team Pursuit squad which is still aiming for a place in the Commonwealth Games squad for Glasgow, Scotland later this year.
“And what a day it was,” said Wenhold. “We ended the competition not only winning the Elite Team Pursuit, but also getting a further two gold, two silver and bronze medals.
“Our Team Pursuit Squad qualified the morning for a race-off for gold against Uzbekistan.┬áBeaten in the process were Malaysia who are currently above us on the UCI points ranking.┬áThe final was a close race with Team SA securing the win in 4min 28.270sec with Uzbekistan second in 4:29.565 and Malaysia rounding off the podium.
“Our Junior Team Pursuit Squad followed in the Elites footsteps and won their race for gold against Malaysia in a time of 4:42.
Other medals and results for the South Africans were:
Junior 20km Points:┬áGold for Stefan de Bod; fourth for Graeme Ockhuis
Elite 30km Points: Silver for HB Kruger
Junior Scratch:┬á Silver for Wailyn Young; fourth for Ockhuis
Elite ladies 20km Points: Bronze for Maroesjka Matthee
In the sprint events, Eugene Soule finished in fifth position