South Africa coach sets bar for men's pursuit squad
South African junior track cycling coach Roger Bouton has one clear ambition ahead of this week's junior world championships in Invercargill.
Bouton, who brings with him a six-strong squad of endurance riders, hopes his men's pursuit team can better the South African senior record for the team pursuit.
The senior men's record is 4min 31sec, while the South African junior record is another five seconds slower.
Bouton knows his young charges will be off the pace in terms of racing for medals in the event, but he believes in setting a realistic target.
"For the other junior teams that will be nothing, they are flying. The New Zealand team will do a 4.10, I've got no doubt about that."
By way of comparison, Australia won last year's junior pursuit title in Moscow with a world record time of 4:02.632.
"By world standards it's not a fast time but you set your goals one step at a time. Even if they run last, I'll be happy if they break that 4:30.
"Two or three years ago an elite team went to the Beijing World Cup to try and break that record and couldn't. If we can do it, it will get the programme going with the kids and will make the administrators take notice," Bouton said.
The South Africans were the first team to land in Southland, arriving almost two weeks before Wednesday's opening session.
Bouton has visited Southland twice before. He came here on holiday after coaching athletes at the world junior mountainbiking championships in Rotorua in 2006 and the world masters games in Sydney in 2008, and was eager for his team to acclimatise well.
"It's the smart thing to do, I can't understand the teams that come late," he said. "Australia don't have it too bad, but when you are coming from Africa or Europe . . . South Africa is a 10-hour time zone change and it's a day's recovery for every hour.
"The same thing happens when the guys play rugby, how can they adapt in a short time frame? There's always a disadvantage for the travelling team.
"I've been to Te Anau and Doubtful Sound and places like that, so I know where people should go, I've done my exploring."
Track cycling lags behind the road cycling in South Africa, which is home to the world's largest timed event, the Cape Argus cycle tour, which attracts more than 35,000 starters.
"We are trying to turn that around a bit. This year, I put these kids in a junior tour against all the road teams and they came second in that. No-one knew who we were, it was a hard tour and we weren't at full strength."
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