Youth Cycling Festival – Breeding ground for young cyclists

Oudtshoorn Youth Cycling Festival

The Cycling Youth Festival has become synonymous with the town of Oudtshoorn and will celebrate its 8th year of existence from Monday, 25 June to Thursday, 28 June 2018.

It all started as the Eric van Enter – a road cycling event with a road race, a hill climb and a criterium race for junior cyclists to compete against each other. This event continued until 2010 and was then replaced by the Cycling Youth Festival, awarded by Cycling SA to Eden Cycling in 2011.

The Youth Cycling Festival started with two events in 2011, the Oudtshoorn Festival during the June school holiday and the Ghariep Youth Festival during the September/October school holiday at the Ghariep Dam. Unfortunately the Free State was not able to host the event in 2016 and Oudtshoorn hosted two Youth Festivals in that year, in June and October whereafter Oudtshoorn became the only town to host this event.

Over the past 8 years the Oudtshoorn Youth Cycling Festival’s focus was to develop skills with the emphasis on team and mass participation. Skills development takes place on every level and not necessarily implies that it has to be a specific discipline.

Over the years different MTB disciplines have been incorporated, such as the oval track events that take place on an oval stock-car track, and is run in a similar way as a track event at a velodrome. During the Youth Cycling Festival in 2016 Eden Cycling was the first to introduce this format of racing, and this event will be back on the programme for 2018 as well as the MTB XCO race.

One of the most important aspects of the Youth Cycling Festival is that it provides the youth with the opportunity to race in their respective age categories and also creates a cross pollination of events exposure to different cycling environments for the riders. Many riders have come to realise that other cycling disciplines is something they enjoy and is also beneficial to their preferred event. An example is Gert Heyns who performed brilliant in the road races at the Youth Cycling Festival and who became a very successful professional MTB racer.

Youth Cycling FestivalWhen looking back in history two names of riders competing in the Eric Van Enter competitions comes to mind. The first is John Lee Augestyn who had a very successful career riding for Team Sky, but unfortunately he was forced to retire due to an injury.
The second is Louis Meintjes currently riding for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. Heidi Dalton also raced in the Eric van Enter, and later became a successful road cyclist. Many people do not realise what a long road these riders have travelled to rise to the top, and even more important, where did it all start.

In recent years Nicolas Dlamini and Louis Visser riding as pro’s in Europe were both participants in the Youth Cycling Festival. Youth Cycling Festival

There are many others riders on the local circuit who also took part in the Youth Cycling Festival such as Clint Hendricks, Jade Julius, Marchal Hendriks, Alex Parsons, Morne van Niekerk and many more.

“We cannot deny that the Youth Festival is the breeding ground for young cyclists. Our young cyclists needs to race against their own age riders, not in races where the outcome is determined by adult or older riders in the same races.”

Corné Bence, President of Eden Cycling, and organizer of the event is very proud of the progress that has been made through the years and hope to see many more youngsters rise to the top.

Entries close on 17 June 2018, no late entries will be accepted after closing date.

To enter, book via www.edencycling.co.za

Corné Bence, The man behind Western Cape Cycling

Oudtshoorn Youth Cycling Festival
Corné Bence with Daryl Impey, SA Road & TT Champs, Oudtshoorn 2018

Cycling Administration is very demanding and time consuming. This does however not scare Corné Bence. He is passionate about cycling and will not be discouraged. Corné’s first love is track cycling and he has been a National track selector for 8 years. His passion started in Oudtshoorn where his father was involved in track cycling. He started to compete on the track in Oudtshoorn – those years a popular venue for many events. Unfortunately the track was demolished in the late 1980s.

Corné received Springbok Colours for track in 1982 and in 1983 for both Road and Track Cycling. In 1983 he was also awarded the State President’s award for the best junior at the SA Track Championships, as everyone in those years younger than 19 was classified as a junior.

Corné engaged in cycling administration when he became the chairperson of the Oudtshoorn Cycling club, a position he held for 10 years. In 2005 he became the President of Eden Cycling, a position he presently holds. When Cycling SA changed their Constitution in 2013, Corné was the one who started Western Cape Cycling, setting up the structures and Constitution, bringing it in line with the Cycling SA Constitution and the SASCOC Policy. He presently holds the position of Chairperson of Western Cape Cycling, and also serves on the Eden Sport Council as the Federation representative for the past 8 years. Over and above these positions he has also been serving on Cycling SA’s Board for the past 9 years as Track and Recreation representative.

Furthermore, Corné is also a qualified UCI Level 2 coach which accreditation he acquired in 2015, and at that stage one of only two coaches in South Africa who had the qualification. Besides being a coach, he is also a Cycling SA Manager who manages South African riders at the highest level. In 2010 he was the Manager for the Elite Track team that participated in Italy, manager for Louis Meintjes at the Road World Championships when he was still a junior, and also managing the Para-cyclists in 2015, 2016 and 2017 World Cups for Track and Road cycling.

Eden Cycling has been awarded the Federation of the year Award three times at the Western Cape Sports awards, and in 2017 Corné received an award for Administrator of the year. Western Cape Cycling was the Host of the South African Road and Time Trial Championships in 2017 and 2018 where Corné played a major role with regard to the successes of both events. In 2018 the event took place in Oudtshoorn with the Local Organising Committee under his guidance.

Eden Cycling under his leadership has also been hosting the Oudtshoorn Youth Cycling Festival since 2011, a very important event for the growth of our future cycling stars.
Over the last few years we have seen a lot of cycling administrators come and go.

To persevere for such a long period in time under challenging circumstances is commendable and something the Western Cape can be proud of – to find a more accomplished and knowledgeable administrator would be a big task.

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