22 January 2013
South Africa’s Bernard Esterhuizen turned in a scintillating display of sprint cycling at the UCI Track World Cup in Aguascalientes, Mexico on the weekend, smashing his own national record of 10.234 seconds in the 200m sprint qualifying event.
Making full use of the Mexican high altitude conditions, the London 2012 Olympian obliterated the old record by 0.448 seconds to record a masterful 9.786 seconds.
The 20-year-old became the first South African rider to break the magical 10-second barrier over 200m, which could be equated to breaking the 10-second barrier for the 100m in athletics. Juan Peralta Gascon of Spain was the fastest qualifier in a time of 9.633 seconds. Kevin Sireau of France holds the World record of 9.572 seconds.
After qualifying in eighth position out of 49 starters (only the fastest 16 riders qualify) he had a tough ride in the first round, narrowly losing to experienced Frenchman Michael D’Almeida who qualified in ninth position.
Esterhuizen, however, won all three of his subsequent rides to win the B-final and finish in a credible ninth position overall.
Denis Dmitriev of Russia was the overall winner with Max Niederlag of Germany in second and Juan Peralta Gascon of Spain rounding out the placings.
It was an excellent weekend for Esterhuizen, who also finished in 11th place in the Keirin event after progressing to the second round with ease.
His performances show the significant strides he has made since placing 11th in the sprint at London 2012. Esterhuizen is working with a new coach, having in December joined up with Andy Sparks, who coached him to the Junior 1Km World Time Trial title in 2010.
Cycling’s world governing body, the UCI, will shortly confirm the qualified riders for the UCI World Track Championships, which take place in Minsk, Belarus from 20 to 24 February. Esterhuizen’s name is expected on the list following his superb showing in Aguascalientes.
Nolan Hoffman, the winner of a silver medal in the 15km scratch race at the 2012 World Championships, has already qualified for the World Champs, which should mean South Africa will be represented in the endurance and sprint disciplines.
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