BMX fans have welcomed the news that iconic South African superstar Sifiso Nhlapo has confirmed that he will jet back for the SA National BMX Championships which form part of Pietermartizburg’s exciting new CSA KZN All Africa Challenge.
With the 2010 World Champs runner-up desperately trying to regain full fitness and find the form which sent him to the top just a couple of years ago the MTN Cycling team member, along with many other up and coming local riders, will be hungry for a strong performance at Alexandra Park in two weeks’ time.
“We’re very excited to have Sifiso (Nhlapo) back for the nationals,” said Cycling South Africa’s national Director: BMX, Margot Gerber. “The likes of Kyle Dodd and Dean Holdstock, who have also been going well recently, will also be there so we’re really holding thumbs for a great event!”
“We’ve moved away from our previous system of three events each with two legs which you are able to earn points from to a once off championship event which falls into line with what the UCI is trying to get everyone to do,” added Eugene Eggar, Cycling South Africa’s National BMX Track Coordinator.
The CSA KZN All Africa Challenge will be hugely beneficial to all three cycling disciplines however it is the BMX community which is particularly hopeful of what the event may well do for their sport.
“The track is undergoing a huge rehabilitation at the moment and our aim is that once we’ve had the nationals there then the Maritzburg BMX club will take over the management of the track,” said KZN BMX Commissioner, Jason Nichol.
“This will be a big step forward for BMX in the region because even though Pietermaritzburg has become the cycling capital of South Africa, BMX numbers in the region are still quite low.”
“Hopefully the new track at Alexandra Park, which is a more central and visible to the community, will really help grow the sport especially amongst the local community members,” he added.
Having staged the UCI BMX Supercross there last year there have been certain changes which have needed to have been made before next weekend’s event however Eggar is happy with the progress which has been made.
“Things have been going really well and it’s going to be absolutely awesome!” said Eggar. “From the babies right through to the elite it really will be a great weekend for BMX in South Africa!”
“The Supercross guys are the top of the top in the world so we’ve had to step things down a bit for our nationals. We’ve taken out the berm jump and made one or two other small changes but we’ve put in a six metres start hill which is the biggest size allowed at this level so this track definitely isn’t one which just anyone would manage!” he added.
Despite participants being unable to qualify for this year’s Olympics through the nationals the event is still a UCI category six event and there is still plenty to race for come next weekend.
“This is not just a Grand National Series event, this is the SA National Champs so the rider who crosses the line first on Sunday will be crowned SA Champ for 2012 and will be given the number one board for the next year and some of the guys will really want to do well ahead of the World Champs in Birmingham in September this year,” said Nichol.
The SA National BMX Championships form part of the CSA KZN All Africa Challenge and take place at Alexandra Park from 27-29 April. More info can be found at www.cyclingsa.com