The Silverback Volvo rider mixed it up with the elites, ultimately finishing 12th overall and second in the junior category.
“I was really happy to be able to race with the top ladies. My strategy was just to race as aggressively as possible on the front and to gain as much experience as I could,” said Keep, who had not taken part in the event before.
“I received some compliments from the older ladies, which was absolutely incredible and meant so much to me.”
Prior to that, she finished third in the Bestmed Berge en Dale Championship.
“I enjoyed racing with the elite ladies in the 107km race where I managed to cross the line as the first junior and third lady overall. I also managed to pick up the hotspot.”
The Hillcrest local, who was crowned the female road cyclist and mountain biker of the year at the KZN Road and Mountain Bike Awards last year, said her greatest achievement thus far would be qualifying that year for the road and mountain bike world championships.
“I also won three SA titles – I was cross-country, marathon and time-trial champion. This year also started off pretty well, as I’m the current national road and time-trial champion.
“The event was a fairy-tale end to what had been an amazing week in Oudtshoorn, and I’m super stoked to have achieved the double victory. I hope to continue this good form for the rest of the year.”
Going forward, Keep’s biggest goal is to qualify for the road and mountain bike world champs again.
“My ultimate career goal would be to win the world champs, as well as to represent my country at the Olympics – that would be an absolutely amazing achievement. I’m busy working towards that and we will get there one day, hopefully.”
Regarding her current excellent form, the youngster said she did not expect it to be so good this early in the season.
“I hoped it would be this good, because I’ve put a lot of work, focus and discipline into my training. I was happy to see that it was finally paying off.
“I kind of noticed it in the beginning of the year when we started racing again. It’s always difficult to gauge where you are before you start as you aren’t competing against other people, so the first race is always a baptism of fire.”
Keep, whose dad introduced her to cycling when she was only three years old, said she got into the sport because she loved it.
“I feel like that should be the main reason behind why you do any sport. I was lucky to have my dad there every step of the way, leading up to when I started racing properly when I was about 10 years old.”
The Silverback Volvo rider said she aspired to be like Swiss cross-country cyclist Jolanda Neff and French multi-discipline bicycle racer Pauline Ferrand-Prévot.
“I love Jolanda’s riding style – she is very good technically and upholds herself well in a race. Pauline, at one stage, simultaneously held the world road title, world cyclo-cross title and world mountain bike title.”
This year is an important one for the Thomas More College pupil in terms of balancing school and sport as a second-year junior rider.
“It’s a lot of late nights, hard work and discipline that goes into it. It doesn’t just happen overnight. I’m one of those people who want to excel in academics and sport, and it really requires a lot out of you.”