Multi-talented star all set for community cycle race

MZOXOLO BUDAZA

Site B cyclist Siphamandla Poto couldn’t have asked for better preparations for this year’s Tour d’ Plain as he was among the hundreds of athletes who took part in the gruelling Discovery Cape Town Duathlon, at the weekend.

The mentally and physically demanding race, which took place in and around the Green Point Athletics Stadium, involved a 5km run, 20km cycle and a further 2.5km run.

A large number of athletes from all corners of the country and beyond took part in the event, and the weather didn’t disappoint.

Poto, a member of the Makhaza-based Bonga Cycling Academy, said the 2.5km run proved to be the toughest leg of the race, despite it being the shortest of the distances they had to cover on the day. This, he said, was because all the athletes pushed hard as they approached the finish line and the legs wanted to give up.

“I tried to keep up with the pace but it was really hard. One of the things that worked to my disadvantage was the fact that I was not 100% fit but, having said that, I think I did fairly well as I was not far off from the race leaders,” he said.

The Grade 12 pupil at Masiyile Secondary school now has his eyes firmly on this weekend’s Tour d’ Plain. He said the duathlon came at the right time and provided him with ideal preparations for the Tour d’ Plain.

The youngster said he will use all the experience he has gained over the years to ensure he finishes in a respectable position. He does come with loads of experience, having been cycling competitively for five years now. He’s been a regular participant at the Cape Town Cycle Tour since then. In fact, he was not just finishing the race; he was recording good times – less than three hours – too.

In 2014, he represented WP province in the Western Cape Championships in George and came second. He said he couldn’t go to the national championship, despite making the cut, due to lack of funding. He said he didn’t let that disappointment derail him and continued working hard, knowing he would get another chance. This, he said was because he felt it was important to have room for disappointment.

“I have taken part in five Cape Town Cycle Tours but, having said that, I know I haven’t achieved much in my cycling so far, hence I am even eager to do well in every race I take part in and this weekend’s race will be no different,” he said.

Poto, who took part in last year’s Tour d’ Plain, said his aim was to finish in the top 10. This, he said, was a realistic goal as he was now aware of what to expect come race day.

“Last year’s event was more of an eye-opener in terms of the conditions around the race. It was, for instance, windy for most of the race and that caught me off guard as I was not prepared for that. I have learnt my lesson and that is not going to repeat itself as I am prepared for anything, even the unexpected,” he said.

The youngster has ambitious plans for the future, too, starting from as early as next year.

“I hope to see myself racing with the elite athletes in next year’s cycle tour. That’s why I want to do as well as possible from now going forward. I always wanted to do well in cycling because it is my chosen sport. My friends thought I chose an easier sport because, they say, it was not really challenging because anyone can cycle. That, in reality, is not the case. Yes, anyone can ride a bike but not everyone can be a cyclist,” he said.

“Let’s take football, for instance, players do have a chance to walk or even stand still during a game and that doesn’t happen with cycling. Once you get into the bike, you have to paddle all the way to the finish line. So, yes cycling requires discipline and a set of special skills,” he said.

* The Tour d’ Plain takes place on Sunday May 1.

The race will start at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital and finish at the Strandfontein Pavilion along a route that covers parts of Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain.