30 Apr, 2015

Giving Back To Cycling


In spite of what can only be described as a long and successful career, Lynette Burger describes her 2015 Cape Town Cycle Tour win as one of her best wins ever.

“It was phenomenal. It is always a gamble in the sprint because you never know what is going to happen,” Lynette told Modern Cyclist shortly after she won the women’s elite division of the shortened, 47 kilometre Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday 8 March.

What makes Lynette’s achievement perhaps even more remarkable is that she gave birth to her first child merely nine months before the race.

“I cannot thank my team enough,” Lynette commented, “we went out with the mindset that we were going to race from the start, and because of the shortened distance, it actually makes it harder but I must be honest, my two team mates were phenomenal and it is really nice that they actually had the confidence in me to finish it off.”

Riding for Team Activate Demacon, Lynette finished the shortened route in a time of 1:17:52 with last year’s winner Cherise Stander (Team RECM) in second and Maroesjka Matthee (Team BestMed ASG) taking the third step of the podium.

On her first Cape Town Cycle Tour win, Lynette said that, despite the dramatic route change, this year’s event was a thrill.

“We set out to do 109 kilometres, but the distance doesn’t matter to me because it is still a race. We went fast and hard from the start and the race was quite aggressive too. After we turned back, we got a cross wind but the racing just kept going.”

As Team Activate Demacon is relatively small and still operates on a small budget, only the team’s three top riders could make the trip to Cape Town. However, what Team Activate Demacon lacks in numbers and infrastructure, it makes up for in fire power with both Heidi Dalton (formerly with European team Lotto Belisol) and An-Li Kachelhoffer there to back Lynette up.

“We brought the top three women in our team to come and do this Cape Town Cycle Tour and, luckily for us, it paid off,” she explained.

In spite of being a relatively new cycling team, Team Activate Demacon also has a fair amount of depth, with the majority of the riders still relatively young.

“We are teaching the younger ones the skills and how races actually work,” explained Lynette, “because I have always been in the sport to give something back as I think that is what it is all about.”

Lynette actually came out of retirement to race for Team Activate Demacon.

“When they phoned me last year to actually come back, I thought ‘no’ because of my child, and because I had said that I didn’t want to ride competitively again,” she said, “but then I thought that I could never ‘just ride my bike’ as there needs to be a goal.”

And then, during a Whatsapp conversation with An-Li, Lynette wrote “well, maybe I should come out of retirement” and, two days later, she did just that.

“Having a little one, you don’t get the rest and recovery that you should,” she explained, “but then again, you don’t stress about a race because they [the child] occupy your mind 24-seven. But it is different, and I’m really enjoying every single moment.”

Lynette praised the Cape Town Cycle Tour organisers for giving the elite women their own starting batch.

“It was really nice because when you’ve got a separate start, you can actively use your team,” she explained, “if we race with the men, we can’t actually use our team mates because we are just following the men’s wheels. But with our own start, we can also give more back to our sponsors. Winning the race with our own start just makes it absolutely amazing because now we’ve got the same as what the men have got.”

And the year ahead for Team Activate Demacon and Lynette?

“We started off with a bang this year. We have won almost every race so it has been phenomenal,” she pondered, “but there are obviously another couple of races later on in the year which we would like to win, like the Momentum 947 Cycle Challenge and the Tsogo Sun Amashova Classic, in order to get our team’s name out there.”

Team Activate Demacon isn’t all about winning though. Lynette explains: “At the National Road Championships, we got second and third but it actually felt like we won because, once again, we rode like a unit. When you break that unit, then you don’t win, so you can see with our results that we don’t break that unit and we are strong as a result. There isn’t only one person in our team, we are definitely a team!”

Lynette also believes women’s cycling in South Africa is on the up.

“I think women’s cycling did go down a while back but this year it is definitely picking up,” she said, “having the separate start we already had more women on the start line and we now have a Women’s Commission at Cycling South Africa. But we do need to stand together as we all want the same goals, even though we come from different teams.”

In keeping with the theme of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, Lynette praised the fire fighters for their tireless efforts for keeping the fires at bay.

“It couldn’t have been easy for the Cape Town Cycle Tour to make the decision to shorten the race as 35 000 people actually trained for the race, but I would like to thank the Cape Town Cycle Tour for putting our safety first,” she concluded.

Raymond Travers

Raymond Travers

Modern Cyclist Editor |