20 Jul, 2015

Getting some French action

Morne van Niekerk in action on his European journey.
Morne stands proudly in his Abantu cycling kit.
Team Abantu's promising young star and U23 South African Time Trial champion Morne van Niekerk is plying his trade in the French amateur ranks and gaining some valuable racing kilometres and experience.

Morné has raced in three events so far and has bettered his previous performance in each outing. Here he fills us in on his living conditions in France, his daily routine and credible performances so far.

Brettagne – Huelgoat
"I am staying in a lovely little town in Brettagne called, Huelgoat," said Morné. “There is a huge amount of training roads with hills, mountains and flat roads. This is ideal for all sorts of training. The town has got a genuine small town feeling and everybody is very accommodating and helpful.

"I am staying in an old house that STILL has to be renovated due to water pipes that have burst, so the water can only be on for 10 minutes every hour" said Morné. The house is extremely messy and due to my OCD habits and my fear of germs, the first week was a real struggle!

"I spent my first day cleaning and organising, ensuring that the house was in a liveable condition," said Morné. “I am sleeping in what is basically the kitchen, on a mattress that has been placed on a table.

“The house is not luxurious but it is free and there are people who don’t even have the luxury of a roof. So I cannot complain,” he said. “I enjoy making my own food and cleaning up and keeping things tidy when I have the chance to be alone.

"After my morning training and cleaning I go down to the café and enjoy an Ice Tea while watching the Tour de France. Then I walk back to the house and start making supper. Pretty much my standard day."

Manche – Ocean
"This was my first race of my European journey and a big jump into the deep end as it was a big race on the calendar with teams such as BIC 2000 (Bretagne Sache Feeder team), UC Nantes Atlantique and Sojasun with the recently crowned French amateur champion," said Morné.

"I was a bit trigger-happy and I raced hard from the start and attacked the hills. It might have been the nerves and I had very good sensations during the race,” he said. "I saw that I climbed very well. Better than most of the other riders here”.

"I felt good in the race and I learnt what I needed to do in order to be at the front in the final (or at least I got an idea). I ended up finishing 26th in this hard and hilly 157 kilometre race. After the race, I went motor pacing for another 30 kilometres with my host and then still rode another 10 kilometres home," said Morné.

"It was a solid day just short of 200 kilometres".

La Ronde Finisterienne #1 – Henvic
"I am racing in a series called La Ronde Finisterienne which contains 10 events in total," said Morné. "The first race was in Henvic and was a hard race over 104 kilometres. It was a flat and windy 6,1 kilometre lap which we completed 17 times.

"I built a lot of confidence and realised I am definitely as good as these guys if not better. I was able to ride them off my wheel a couple of times in the crosswind section. The trouble I am faced with is that I am riding as an individual in my Abantu colours and they pace me back together afterwards".

“In the sprint, I got boxed in, so I ended up finishing 23rd. I am a bit disappointed as the result did not reflect my effort and strength on the flat roads and also the fact that I am racing solo,” said Morné.

La Ronde Finisterienne #2 – Pont-du-Buis
"I tried to keep a low key till the 20 kilometres to go mark where I launched my first attack over the steep 1 kilometre hill up to the finish line. The 4,7 kilometre lap suited me a lot more with quite a good amount of climbing," said Morné.

"We did 22 laps of this challenging circuit and I raced a lot smarter and it payed off. I only attacked and followed when and if I really had to and kept more for the last 20 kilometres where I was one of the strongest.

"I was second wheel out of the last corner with 300 metres to go when I kicked into too big of a gear for the steeper part and I was pipped by two other riders on the line and ended up 7th," said Morné.

"I am quite happy with this race as I did not finally crack the top 20, but also the top 10. This has given me confidence moving forward".
Kyle Deeley

Kyle Deeley

Editorial Assistant |