Fresh from her podium finish at the 947 Ride Joburg on the weekend, Sandton City Cycle Nation’s Johanna van de Winkel is looking forward to racing the aQuellé Tour Durban in the province of her birth on Sunday, 28 November.
This year’s race has seen the establishment of a specific race just for the elite riders and the teams across the men’s and women’s races will fight it out over 101km of fast-flowing M4 highway between the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium and Mdloti.
Van de Winkel’s elite racing career has spanned over a decade with her representing South Africa in the road race at the 2012 Olympic Games in London and she will be taking a step back from the elite side of things in 2022.
“At the end of the year I am moving down to Hillcrest from Johannesburg with my family which we are excited about,” Van de Winkel said.
“It’s always special to race in KwaZulu-Natal and it’s always held an important place in my heart because I was brought up in the province and it’s going to be an awesome experience racing there again.
“I want to move into more of a mentoring role and use my experience on the international stage to try and help the next generation of women road riders in the country.”
From her win at the famous 947 Cycle Tour in 2009 to her Olympic debut to racing on the European circuit, Van de Winkel’s international experience is an important asset that she wants to use in educating the next generation.
“The ultimate goal for all our local riders is to get onto a European team and race internationally and going into the end of this year and the beginning of next year it’s important that the girls get noticed.
“There is not a lot of support for South African cyclists and they need support and sponsors to fulfill their dreams of racing overseas.
“It’s important that they know the challenges and what it takes to race in that environment so I want to do my little bit to help them be as best prepared as possible.”
Despite Van de Winkel’s move away from the sharp end of the elite women’s field she doesn’t feel that she is off the pace heading into Durban’s classic next weekend.
“After the Olympics in 2012 I took a break to start a family but now I feel like I am pretty close to the level I was when I was racing overseas and feel just as strong as I did then.
“I’m not saying I would be able to compete in Europe but I feel good and my training schedules have changed a lot with shorter, more intense sessions.
“Because of the family my training had to adjust quite a bit but I am feeling good going into the Tour Durban,” she added.