Peloton Watch
  Bernette Beyers continues development at Coupe de France Fenioux Piste  
  May 24th 2016  
  Bernette Beyers. Photo: © Union Cycliste Internationale  
  After claiming four South African titles in April, Bernette Beyers has spent the past month and a half continuing her development at the UCI's World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland. As part of her ongoing development the 24 year old lined up at the Coupe de France Fenioux Piste, last weekend, her first ever UCI C1 event. With the field including former world champion Becky James, and top 20 ranked sprinters Katy Marchant, Virginie Cueff, Tania Calvo as well as Hyejin Lee and Lisandra Guerra it was her biggest challenge to date.

In the sprint Beyers smashed her own South African Record, lowering the mark by nearly half a second before going on to finish eighth on the opening day. Day two saw further improvement as she sprinted to third in round one of the keirin booking a spot in the final, finishing sixth.

You have spent the past month and a half since the South African National Championships training at the UCI World Cycling Centre how has it gone?

My first month back at World Cycling Centre was probably my hardest month of training up to date, considering I pushed myself beyond my comfort-zone. Training with Lisandra Guerra was just what I needed to set my standard higher. Being my friendly competition in every training session pushing myself too keep up with her, made me stronger and faster, considering she's training for the Rio Olympics.

Coupe de France Fenioux Piste was your first ever UCI C1 event heading in what were your expectations?

My expectations for the weekend was basically just holding on for life, hoping it will pass quickly and learning as much as possible. My coach Scott Bugden and Lisandra kept telling me that there were no expectations for me going into the race and that I have to enjoy it and see it as a good racing experience. But saying that, made me more nervous then before.

There was a strong field with the likes of Becky James, Virginie Cueff, Katy Marchant and Tania Calvo were you nervous about facing some of the top sprinters in the world?

To be honest being new in the field I did not know any of the riders except Nicky Degrendele, Lisandra Guerra and Hyejin Lee. Knowing that Hyejin was one of the world's top sprinters, also training at the World Cycling Centre and Ross Edgar being her coach. After the 200m qualifier I was confident at first as I had a personal best in the qualifier. Then I took a look at the times, at that moment my heart got stuck in my throat seeing how fast these girls were... My facial expressions must have been something out of a horror movie. To answer your question being nervous was an understatement.

You set a new PB and South African Record of 11.358, beating your old record by nearly half a second happy with your time?

I'm super happy about my new SA record, showing that what I have put into my training this past month paid off. I must say part of breaking the SA record came from having an amazing coach like Scott Bugden, that I'm so thankful for.

Won your round one repechage and went on to finish eighth in the sprint happy with how you raced? Were you able to see improvements on past competitions?

I won't say I'm happy about my eighth place, I need more experience and technique when it comes down to match sprints. I was not confident nor was I in control going into it and that played a big roll in my position at the end. I learned my lesson for sure and hopefully next time things will be a bit difference as I gain some experience.

Made the keirin final and finished sixth what did it mean to make it through to the final?

In the heat knowing I had a bit of a gap to close with one lap to go and to try and pass two riders before the line to make it to top three. It was a big surprise! I wasn't sure if I made it, going over the finish line I could see Lisandra and I was close for third place. Only about a few minutes after my coach came to me with the good news. Being in the final means I made progression, that made me happy.

What was the biggest challenge you faced on the weekend and what is the most important thing you learnt?

My biggest challenge was defiantly riding in the keirin, I have to be more aggressive and fight for good placing. Honestly I was scared, bumping, pushing and wheels touching gave me goosebumps and threw me out, as I haven't had such experience yet. The thing I learned is not to be scared of big gears, I had gears on I had never ridden before even in training. It was a good test for me for my next race.

How important was the event and chance to race at the top level in your ongoing development?

At first the race was not that important in the beginning, I was hoping for more category two racing, only after the race I realised that this is just what I needed physically and mentally. I needed to know what top level racing is like. Knowing what I learned after the weekend will change my training strategies and make me stronger overall.

Next up you are racing Trofeu CAR Anadia Portugal at the start of June are you able to take confidence from your performances on the weekend in to the next event?

I will be more confidence in the choices I make, but me being confident for the next race still makes me nervous. It will be better, but I'm only human. I think every athlete tries to work on their confidence, doesn't matter how many years of experience you have.
 © 2016