Crit races put cycling development talent back on track

Three exhilarating criterium (Crit) league cycling races that took place in April and May this year in the greater Cape Town area saw 25 cyclists from the Nedbank Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme participate with great enthusiasm after a long racing hiatus.

‘We’re really excited that the races can once again be planned in advance; this can ensure preparation for the cyclist and logistics for events,’ says Mike Tippett, Manager of The Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme.

The Nedbank Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme has been funded by Nedbank since 2005. The programme supplies bikes and supports the training and participation of up to 200 cyclists annually in 10 high schools in the areas of Boland, Cape Metro and West Coast in the Western Cape.

‘We pursue two core aims through this programme: to encourage learners to live a healthy lifestyle and do well at school; and to identify and nurture cycling talent during and beyond their school years,’ explains Tobie Badenhorst, Head of Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.

The 25 cyclists in the Crit races have been identified as cyclists with potential and are in the talent-nurturing programme.

The three Crit races organised by Western Province Cycling are part of the South African and provincial racing calendar, and competitors from throughout the Western Cape participated. All the races were individual races and the cyclists raced for 30 minutes over limited-distance courses ranging from 800m to 1 500m in a secure environment with safe, flat routes and good road surfaces. The three races took place in cordoned-off areas in Paarden Island, Century City and the ASLA Office Park in Strand. The races had five different categories: under 17, under 19, development cyclists, elite cyclists and female cyclists.

It was the first time cyclists in the Nedbank Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme had ever competed in the Crit format, commenting it was a tough, motivating and eye-opening experience.

‘It’s a totally different type of racing to road racing. It’s very technical and tactical, and for the spectators it’s the cycling equivalent of T20 cricket: exciting, fast and vibrant,’ Tippett explains. ‘The spectators can see most of the route from wherever they are standing.’

The cycling development programme coaches had to change the training programme ahead of the races to teach the learners to ride all out for a limited time, to ensure they retained enough energy and strength for the final laps.

Spinning structures, in addition to road training, are now part of the programme because it is not always safe for the learners to be on the roads. Spinning classes are held in the classrooms between the desks during class breaks, and in the homes of community members who live close to the schools.

The cyclists clip their bikes to an ‘indoor’, which transforms the bikes into spinning bikes. They cycle to high tempo music and big screen TVs that screen maths lessons and videos that teach them about gender-based violence, about saving and finance while they train.

‘The programme’s philosophy is that cycling is part of their lives, not a separate activity, and there is a place for everyone in the programme,’ says Badenhorst. ‘Some learners are going to be good at racing, while others will enjoy the social and healthy living aspects. And once they have finished school, the programme gives them an opportunity to do a course to become a team manager or coach, as several of the cyclists have done.’

Today there are more virtual courses for cycling managers and coaches than ever before, which makes it accessible for cyclists to enrol and advance through the ranks.

‘These cycle training technological advancements have provided a positive outcome from the pandemic, which, in general, has played havoc with the schools and educators, and has been very challenging for the programme. During lockdown, the programme needed to help the cyclists and their families with food security and that whole period was about survival. But we are building the cycling up again and we are excited to be back in the league races, so it feels good’, added Tippett.

To Contact The Sports Trust:
Carol Crawford – Marketing and Communications Manager  082 802 2899 or
Mike Tippett – Manager of The Sports Trust Cycling Development Programme 062 159 1011

About The Sports Trust
The Sports Trust is a registered section 21 company and public-benefit organisation that operates as a non-profit organisation. It acts as an implementation partner for contributing corporates and donors, and provides sporting kit and equipment, manages sustainable sport programmes and develops sports facilities in under-resourced communities in South Africa. The Sports Trust has been a catalyst for meaningful change in sport throughout South Africa, working together with its trustees and corporate donors.

Nedbank is a founding trustee of The Sports Trust and provides support through its Nedbank Sport Affinity. When you use any of the accounts linked to the Sport Affinity, Nedbank donates money to The Sports Trust to fund sport development, talent identification and transformation in under-resourced communities, which assists with identifying talent and the transformation in sport.

Support the development of sport in South Africa, at no cost to you
You can also support the development of sport in South Africa by endorsing the Nedbank Sport Affinity programme in disadvantaged communities. The future sports stars of our nation have also been equipped through the investment of multipurpose sport courts, soccer and training kits. And you can also donate your Greenbacks to The Sports Trust via the Nedbank Money App. Open up a savings or investment account to help push sports beyond limits. #SupportWhatMatters

Visit any Nedbank branch or call the Nedbank Contact Centre on 0860 555 111 or go to for more information.

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