Johannesburg - Cycling South Africa’s (CSA) new road racing regulations will be implemented for the first time in the Eastern Cape, at The Herald VW Cycle Tour national classic in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
According to Hendrik Lemmer, CSA road commission director, the new rules were an attempt to move away from age and gender-based categories, to a strength versus strength system.
“The top countries have a strength-based system, which works well,” he said.
The national body’s overview document states that the new categories will lessen the jump from local to international racing, and therefore make South African cycling more competitive in the long term.
“We need to get our local riders, especially the youngsters and women, to race as teams and not as individuals," said Lemmer.
“In category one, all the top elite, U/23, junior and veteran teams will be racing against each other, while category two will pit individual cyclists and informal teams against the top women’s teams.”
Lemmer said categories three and four would field the spillover of fully licensed and seeded cyclists from the first two divisions. He highlighted that the categories would see elite women competing against male riders for the first time.
He said at the moment, men and women would not be competing for one prize purse.
The new categories were put to the test for the first time in this past weekend’s 106km Pick n Pay Fast One in Johannesburg.
“Racing with the men virtually cancelled out any team tactics among the women, and it mostly became a test of strength,” said women’s race winner Marissa van der Merwe of newly-established Team USN.
“It’s certainly going to make our women faster in the long run,” said Van Der Merwe.