Road Cycling Series overall winner Carla Oberholzer said she hopes the initiative will help grow women’s cycling in South Africa.
The series was launched by Support SA Talent at the start of this year to provide a platform for South African cyclists to receive recognition for their achievements.
Demacon’s Oberholzer had a highly successful season during which she won an array of races including the Ride for Sight, Berge en Dale, Vulintaba Extreme, Kremetart Cycle Race, Jock Classic, trapNET 360, Amashova Durban Classic, Tshwane Classic and 947 Cycle Challenge.
Her highlight was winning the national road champs in February for the first time.
As a result of her successes this year, Oberholzer comfortably topped the series standings with a total of 397 points, 96 clear of her teammate Kim le Court in second.
Although happy with her overall title, the 31-year-old said she hoped the series would lift the general standard of women’s cycling in the country.
“I’m hoping it will grow women’s cycling a bit,” she told In the Bunch today.
“Hopefully it can be expanded to improve the level of women’s racing and to include more teams. Who knows, maybe it will then be able to send women teams to race in Europe in the future as well.
“But I think this year was a very good stepping stone.”
The level of women’s cycling was still high, Oberholzer said, but “the numbers are low”.
“There are very few young riders coming through the ranks, but to further develop the sport we need to draw more women into it and look after the current women involved in the sport better.
“At Demacon we are very privileged that we are taken care of. This needs to be expanded to other young riders as well.
“We need to get more teams, but perhaps smaller in number. I think that will definitely be the way forward to improve the level.”
She thought the initiative was promising for the development of the sport in the country.
“A road series is always nice to have; it gives some long-term objectives to work towards in a given season.”
Aside from enjoying good results throughout the season, Oberholzer reflected on other positives she experienced.
“For me, it’s not just about winning races. There are many other little moments during races that also serve as highlights such as when a teammate sets you up perfectly or when you set a teammate up for a sprint.”
From the start of the season Oberholzer said it was not her goal to win the series and that as a team they rather channelled all their focus and energy into “one race at a time”.
“If you are successful in each individual race then you’ll be successful at the end of the season.”
Oberholzer, from Clarens, did however face some difficulties during the year. “It was quite challenging to keep training throughout the winter.
“This was my first full winter in Clarens, Free State. Last year I was in Spain so I skipped most of the winter.
“It gets really ridiculously cold [in Clarens] so you spend hours and hours on the indoor trainer, making it difficult to keep the motivation up.
“Fortunately as soon as the racing season started again it became easier.”
Due to work and family commitments as well as the extreme lifestyle change, Oberholzer said she would not be particularly keen to race for a European team again.
However, she did believe it was a great opportunity for up-and-coming cyclists.
“Any youngster who is unattached and has the opportunity to go should definitely do so while they can.”