On 27 May 2018, five aspiring U23 South African road cyclists head to Czech Republic to tackle over 449km of racing and more than 9 400 metres of climbing in the 2018 GRAND PRIX PRIESSNITZ SPA UCI U23 NATIONS’ CUP. They will compete against twenty two other countries, ahead of travelling onto Spain and Belgium to continue their international racing expeditions.
The U23 National Team consisting of local riders Gustav Basson and Mitch Eliot (Team ProTouch), Ryan Harris (Office Guru U23), Andrew Edwards (Luso Cycling) and Devin Shortt (Team Gregnano, Italy) was announced last week by Cycling South Africa.
The 4-day stage event commences on 31 May 2018 and consists of a 1.9km Prologue, followed by three stages: Stage 1 (Friday, June 1) – from Jesenik to Rýmařov with 133km of moderate climbing with three mountain bonuses ending with three undulating 10 km circuits around the town of Rýmařov; Stage 2 the “Queens” Stage (Saturday, June 2) – is a 151km, super elevation of 3,800 metres from the town of Krnov with three mountain bonuses and demanding rise, to the finishing peak of the Dlouhé Stráně Dam; The final third Stage 3 (Sunday, June 3) is 158 km, starting in the town of Jeseník, near the Czech-Polish border with four mountain bonuses, over the peaks of the Jeseníky mountains – the highest point of which is 940 metres above sea level and, finishing in front of the Priessnitz Spa (founded in 1837).
GUSTAV BASSON, who rides locally for Team ProTouch, represented the National Team at the Africa Continental Championships in March 2018. He recently won Tour Durban Classic, as well as the inaugural UCI 2.2 Tour de Limpopo along with the Best Young Riders Competition and placed second in the Sprinters Competition. Following the Nations Cup, he will be flying to Spain where he will be hosted by the BERANGO TXIRRINDULARI ELKARTEA CLUB and BAQUÉ-IDEUS-BH TEAM, before returning home at the end of August 2018.
He is joined by team mate, MITCH ELIOT, who at the end of 2017 won the Best Young Rider Competition at Clover Tour, Tour de Maurice and Tour de Windhoek. Mitch has been playing a supporting role for ProTouch who, also recently won the Team Time Trial at 2018 Tour de Limpopo and took second place (behind Team Dimension Data) at Tour of Good Hope in March. Mitch continues onto Belgium hosted by the U23 MYSENLAN SPIE DOUTERLOIGNE CT TEAM, as part of a partnership with local initiative, Support SA Talent.
Young ANDREW EDWARDS from the Luso Cycling Team who, recently won the Queen’s Stage, at the UCI Tour de Limpopo following his third U23 placing in the 2018 Mpumalanga Tour. Andrew will join Mitch [Eliot] in Belgium after the Nations Cup, before returning to South Africa in August 2018.
RYAN HARRIS (Office Guru U23) recently finished 2nd in the Points Classification at the UCI Tour de Limpopo and 3rd overall in UCI 100 Cycle Challenge last month. Ryan also participated as part of the National Team at the UCI Tour of Sharjah, UAE earlier this year. Ryan will continue his journey onto Spain to ride for TEAM JIRA-BIRA TRACK CYCLING T.K., where he will be based until the end of August 2018.
DEVIN SHORTT, who has been based in Italy since February with GREGNANO SPORTING TEAM, will bring with him some international racing experience, when joining the National Team in Czech Republic.
Team Manager, Hein Badenhorst commented, “I am privileged to be supporting this National Team. We have a talented group of U23 athletes and, having spent two years in Europe with Team Dimension Data, I understand that the level of racing in Europe is much higher than what our youngsters are used to. We are going there to compete, it is essential that we further develop our riders for the international stage”.