Peloton Watch
  Bernette Beyers Blog: Racing in Portugal and Germany and my first UCI C1 podium  
  June 13th By Bernette Beyers  
  Bernette Beyers (left) on the podium with Kristina Vogel and Martha Bayona at Grand Prix von Deutschland. Photo: Supplied  
  Since returning to train at the UCI World Cycling Centre in April, Bernette Beyers has competed in three UCI C1 events in France, Portugal and Germany. Breaking the South African records in the flying 200 and 500m time trial while making three keirin finals. Her biggest achievement to date came at the Grand Prix von Deutschland, where she finished second behind world champion Kristina Vogel in the keirin.

Troféu CAR Anadia Portugal

Bernette Beyers during sprint qualifying at Troféu CAR Anadia Portugal. Photo: Supplied

So my second race was in Portugal, I didn't know what to expect from this weekend. Arriving there on Thursday I got on rollers and Friday I had a chance too get on the track and do a few activation sprints to get the blood pumping and also to get the feeling for the track. Legs felt good but not my favourite track, I can enter the velodrome and just looking at the track I can say if I like it or not.

Upon standing up the morning I could feel my legs are a bit wobbly, could be the nerves. We started Saturday with the 200m qualifier, putting me in fourth position. You could say I had some mixed emotions. When I came off the track you can probably see it in my face if I'm happy or not, I try not to show it but I can't hide it haha.

Match sprinting started straight away, and I confidently won the first round but then the real racing started. Looking at the other heats I could tell this is all about technique and not just speed. This threw me out and made me an easy target. I know I have a lot of work to do when is comes tactics and was KO'd on my second heat.

In my next race I had to go against three French rides for 5th-8th position.

I was completely off guard as they all worked as a team, from the start going down on the banking, two girls jumped and the one held me back until I could get a gap to get past and play cat and mouse. I was a very angry cat and had a big gap to catch up. I ended up doing a 500m sprint to catch the second girl. Overall I placed sixth. Not happy about my placing as I felt my legs were not there that day.

After the long day on the saddle we had the 500m TT. Mentally my head was not in the right place after the days racing, being negative and physically tired, but in the back of my head I truly wanted to get under 36 seconds. Unfortunately that didn't happen, came close but will next time. Ended breaking the South African 500m TT record in the meantime so there is a little positive outcome for the day. Overall I came fifth.

Next was the keirin on the Sunday. You could say it's my favourite event and my legs as always, feel better on my second day of racing. I made top two in my heat and went straight through to the finals. Because the racing here in Portugal is more about tactics then speed it threw me out on the last lap and ended fourth. I need to work on my skills definitely, but can't learn everything at once and tactics comes with experience in my opinion. Overall I won't say I'm super happy with how the weekend went but I took it as a learning experience to my next race in Cottbus with some top of class girls.

GP von Deutschland

Cottbus velodrome. Photo: Supplied

Cottbus weekend, we arrived after very long hours of driving from Switzerland. Got to the track day before racing and on the rollers immediately, same protocol. Cottbus being an outdoor track changes things for me a bit, taking the wind in to consideration and weather changes.

I will say it is one of my favourite tracks but defiantly something to get used to. I would have loved having a few more days on the track to really get into it and test out a few gears to get more comfortable. The 200m qualifying started on Friday, and lucky me I was first on the list, would have loved to see how the girls would take the line for the 200m sprint as they been participating in a training camp here this week. I was disappointed about my qualifying time as I was over geared, considering the track being 333m it changes the 200m starting point and making it just after the banking, didn't give me enough straight to jump into to get on my gear. If I had a second chance I would jump much harder in the back straight. The girls didn't look too worried about me when I set the first benchmark but I was.

Qualifying 11th did not put me in a good spot and knowing that my match sprinting skills needed a lot of attention, I was not confident. I managed to get down to eighth place overall in the sprint. Don't know if I should be happy, my coach said that the first seven girls are going to the Olympics and that I should be proud. Thinking about it, at least I was a bit of competition and not just another rider. But I hate losing and I'm not a very good loser but I gave myself a pat on the back.

Lying in bed that night thinking about the keirin the next day, hoping that it would go better. You could say I had a bit anger that I needed to get rid of. I just need to make it through to the finals! I had to get top three in my heat, knowing that four girls in my heat had better qualifying times – Natasha Hansen, Lisandra Guerra, Juliana Gaviria and Natalie Srutkova, it was going to be a challenge. That or maybe I just really wanted to race against Kristina Vogel in the final!

Race day, the heat started, the derny going off the track with two and half laps to go, seeing Lisandra in my inside while I'm going up on the banking I realised that everyone is waiting for her to make the move and as I had the advantage being on top of the banking, it made the girls nervous I think, or they weren't really worried after seeing my 200m qualifier. I decided to make the first move, jumping down and making the first jump a lap to go. I managed to keep myself in the top three ladies over the line, though it was close one. Happy day for me! I made it to the finals to race against top class ladies who I admire. I wasn't too nervous about the final just because even with a sixth place I would be happy.

At the start of the final seeing Kristina Vogel on my side and Martha Bayona it gave me a big rush of adrenaline that came out of nowhere! In the back of my head I thought about being on the podium next to her. The gun went, and the race started.

Trying to remember all the things my coach told me to keep in consideration, (there is a saying that goes, "if at first you don't succeed, try doing what your coach told you to do the first time"). Haha I keep laughing every time I think about it, so true though...

The derny pulled off and the race started, everyone waited for Vogel to make the first move as she was at the back. Patience slowly ran out for the girls in front and Lisandra and Martha made the first jump, as the speed increased. Kristina reacted quickly to the jump and me, I was just sitting at the back in front of Vogel trying to figure out what I should do next that would benefit me not to get stuck on the bottom. Seeing Vogel coming closer I went up so she could pass on my inside. I could just see pure power coming from her legs. I gave it everything and felt my lungs exploding and my muscles twitching to chase behind her, catching her wheel and going over the girls and coming in along side Vogel on the finish line. What just happened? Did I or did I not just came second? Third maybe? Or was I imagining things? Was my head just playing with me? Nobody could tell me what happened, looking at the score board and trying to get my breath back, nothing made sense, everything was just a big blur.

Sitting on the rollers to cool down my emotions were all over the place. My coach came running to me after trying to find out what the results are. You came second he said. Oh wow, really? That feeling was indescribable! So happy and that I could make my coach proud, put a smile to my face and also the people back home in South Africa.

I saw Kristina Vogel training in South Africa at the beginning of the year I never thought when I next saw her I would be standing next to her on the podium in second place.
 © 2016