By Mark Etheridge
Our national time trial cycling champion Cherise Taylor can take heart from the first race of her European campaign in Belgium.
In Europe, along with a handful of other South African women’s cyclists chasing UCI ranking points ahead of this year’s Olympic Games in London, Taylor raced the Gent-Wevelgem event.
The KwaZulu-Natalian had headed for Europe after being involved in a head-over-heels pile-up while defending her Cape Argus Pick n Pay cycle tour in Cape Town earlier this month.
“I did my first race at the weekend and managed to get 12th,” Taylor said from Belgium. “After struggling to get over a concussion from Argus I’m pretty happy with that.”
The race was won by Britain’s Elizabeth Armitstead, the British national champion clocking 2hr 49min 46sec for a solo win.
Taylor, a 2008 Beijing Olympian for Team South Africa, was 55 seconds off the pace at the line in Belgium.
She now stays in Belgium for her next race where she’ll line up as part of the Lotto-Belisol team. “I’m racing Ronde van Vlaanders this weekend. I’m pretty nervous but will see how it goes,” she told Road to London 2012.
It’s easy to see why she’s nervous ahead of this World Cup event. The 127km race is a real toughie, featuring not only two flat sections of infamous cobbles at 39km and 63km but there are also two cobbled climbs coming at 101 and 104 kilometres.
It’s an extremely technical race with lots of hills and twisty turns, and cyclist will have very little time for regrouping and closing the gaps that are bound to develop.