Yolande Speedy, South Africa's best hope for a top finish in the elite women's race at next week's opening round of the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, crashed and broke her wrist while training on the course on Wednesday afternoon.
The injury to her right wrist is serious and requires surgery. She will obviously miss the World Cup race and is unlikely to be able to race for another two months. The multiple-time South African champion and Beijing Olympian is understandably highly disappointed.
"I'm really in great form at the moment. My training has gone very well and my nutrition has been better than ever. I've not felt so good before. I planned to peak for the World Cup in Pietermaritzburg. I finished 21st there in 2009 and missed last year's edition due to illness. I was really hoping for a good result this year, possibly a top 20 finish. I'll have to just refocus now and set some new goals," said Speedy.
Racing for the Epic Sports - USN team, the current South African cross country champion, won the opening round of the South African National cross country Series last month. She followed that up with a first place and a third place at rounds 1 and 2 respectively of the UCI XCO Series in KwaZulu-Natal over the past couple of weeks.
The redesigned World Cup course in Pietermaritzburg has been the focus of much discussion in the build up to next weekend's racing, with some formidable sections designed to test the riders' skills and courage to the limit. Speedy crashed on the banked turn (berm) that follows a steep, long drop-off.
"My first time down the drop-off, I hesitated and went over the handlebars, so on my second attempt, I decided to follow two international guys and use their line and pace. I was so happy to make the drop-off successfully and just wasn't looking far enough ahead when I hit the berm too fast and flew over the edge," said Speedy.
"I tried to ride back but just couldn't put any pressure on it. The x-rays show that it's a complicated fracture, which will require plates to repair the radius bone. They can only operate once the swelling has subsided, which may only be on Monday."