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South African national road race changed at last minute

Daryl Impey drives the RadioShack train

Daryl Impey drives the RadioShack train (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The course of the South Africa national championship road race in Port Elizabeth has been changed for safety reasons. Still reeling from the death of Carla Swart in a training accident, CyclingSA said that “safety is our number one concern”.

Race organisers were apparently unable to get the roads closed for the races this weekend, and so decided to limit the races to an 8.9km circuit.

The junior men and elite women will cover 11 laps, for 94.6km, and the elite and under 23 men will go 18 laps, for 154.8km, all on Saturday.

“I want to reiterate that there is no way we as CyclingSA will ever compromise the safety of our cyclists,” said Hendrik Lemmer, CyclingSA’s director of road cycling. “We are even prepared to go to such extreme measures like cancelling the whole event or move it to another venue if we feel we cannot guarantee the cyclists safety.

“There is no way that we will allow another of our riders to be killed in a car accident."

The change in route won't make the race any easier, according to CyclingSA's general manager of road racing, Barry Austin. “In their 18 laps, the elites will do about 4500 metres of vertical climbing. This is more than riders will do at a World Championship."

Swart, 23, died last month after being hit by a truck while training on the road.