ABANTU-PANDASPORT ACADEMY rider Morne van Niekerk won the Best Young Rider white jersey at the TracN4 U23 Tour this past week. Riding in his first year as a U23, van Niekerk turned heads with an impressive ride in the Individual TT on stage 3b finishing just 7sec off a podium place. The 18yr old who is based in Pretoria finished a credible 11th overall on GC.
Over the 4 stages he was consistent, always finishing amongst the leaders. His commitment to his “senior” team riders Kellan Gouveris and Myles van Musschenbroek was also a good sign as he was seen putting in the hard yards along with van Musschenbroek in favor of Gouveris on stage 3a, his composure and pace setting up the Long Tom Pass for van Musschenbroek as well as the way he rode himself back up into contention up the gruelling Kaapsehoop pass was a sign of big things to come for the youngster.
Labeled as predominantly a track rider, general manager for Team Abantu professional cycling outfit, Dean Edwards said that he was very impressed with van Niekerks performance and as a prominent track rider he is on the right path competing in road tours of this nature and exceling.
“The biggest mistake our local endurance track riders make is believe that they are only track riders and can’t or shouldnt race on the road. Take a guy like Nolan (Hoffman) for example, he wins local road races week in and week out. He was 7th at SA road champs over 180km, he was the best locally based SA sprinter at Mzansi Tour last year with two 3rds and a win, yet he is a world class track rider. With the sort of results we are seeing from Morne on the road and specifically in the TT’s I believe he has a bright future ahead of him. We will be keeping a close eye on him and his progress within our development structures and I look forward to seeing him excel on the track” Said Edwards.
Van Niekerk has been selected for the South African team to take part in the UCI 2.2 Mzansi Tour 8-12 April. Following that he will race in the Tour Durban Classic and then the SA Track Championships at the end of April.