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aAvid KwaZulu-Natal road cyclists have rallied behind a pioneering project to promote road cycling in Mozambique and forge a relationship with the aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Bridge Fund Managers on 28 April.
In 2015, Mozambiquan riders who were frustrated at the lack of support for growing the sport in their country formed Betinho Bikes Katlhula to give young disadvantaged athletes a chance to develop as proficient road cyclists.
The group travelled to Durban in January, where they forged an alliance with local riders to help with training programmes, kit and equipment.
“I was very impressed with these guys,” said Don Kruger, who hosted the squad and arranged their training rides.
“We took them on as much of the Tour Durban course as we could, and they are really strong riders. They rode away from us going up Jacobs Ladder!” he added.
Once word got out that the enthusiastic youngsters were in town donations started to arrive from local road cycling enthusiasts.
“We got helmets, sunglasses, wheels, cycling kit and some spares,” he said. “Their top eight guys are pretty well sorted out but there are another eight in their squad who really need proper bikes and basics such as shoes and cleats,” he added.
“I respect their ethos,” said Kruger. “Most of these guys come from townships around Maputo, and their organisers make sure that schoolwork is all up to date before the got out on any training rides.”
Kruger said his brother, who is working in Maputo, arranged trips to training on weekends. “There are no hills around Maputo at all, so they are reliant on transport to get to suitable roads where there are hills to train on.”
“The Government of Mozambique doesn’t look at cycling as a priority sport and most of the company’s focus their attention on football, which results in absence of any kind of aid or support for cycling,” said Riccardo Trindade, organiser of the Betinho Bikes Katlhula.
“We aim to bring cycling to underprivileged communities, giving young people the opportunity to explore their talents and create conditions for them to move away from the often hostile environment in their areas of residence,” he added.
“Young Mozambicans love to ride bicycles and have good natural skill for cycling, and we believe that, with due monitoring and training, it is possible to raise Mozambique’s competitive level and improve the capacity of young national cyclists.”
He added that there were no accessible races or cycling competitions, which forced them, to look to Swaziland and South Africa as venues to test their skills.
Kruger is facilitating getting the broader squad down to Durban to race the aQuellé Tour Durban presented by Bridge Fund Managers on 28 April.