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Cycling | SA Cycling

Pauline Cound © Anthony Grote

Cound heads up Msunduzi women’s field

With her sights set firmly on qualifying for the 2014 UWCT Final in both the road race and the time trial disciplines, 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome’s future mother-in-law Pauline Cound will return once more to her happy hunting grounds of the KZN Midlands in a few weeks’ time when she takes part in the 2013 Msunduzi Road Challenge.

After representing South Africa at the UCI Mountain Bike Masters World Championships – also staged in Pietermaritzburg – in August this year, the Johannesburg resident recently returned to her preferred choice of bicycle and, having claimed last year’s 50-54 Women’s Road Race World Champion’s title and a silver medal in her age group’s Time Trial event in KZN’s capital city at the UWCT Final, the former World Champ heads to the region with fond memories.

“I have always done most of my training on my road bike,” Cound mentioned. “Having the mountain bike Worlds here meant that I had to focus a bit more on the off road stuff for a bit but it’s never difficult to get back on the road bike.”

The former World Champ has taken the decision that she will focus on the Time Trial event more than the Road Race at the Msunduzi Road Challenge this year as she feels this is her better discipline of the two.

“Although I won my world title in the Road Race I have always felt that the Time Trial is my best discipline so there has been a shift in focus to the Time Trial this time around.

“I won the silver medal at the 2012 UWCT Final in Pietermaritzburg in the Time Trial and I know what I have to do now to win it. I also saw that Sissel (Vien) was beaten by an American at the 2013 UWCT Final in Trento, Italy which has given me a bit more confidence that I can beat her too,” added the multi-talented athlete.

Having represented South Africa in six different sporting codes, Cound did not take up the challenge of travelling to Trento, Italy earlier this year to defend the World Championship crown she claimed in PMB in 2012 due to commitments and the stresses of overseas travel.

“It would have been nice to go to Italy but going overseas takes a lot of preparation and planning and it was never my idea to go and defend my title but next year I will go (to Slovenia) if I manage to qualify.”

Cound is confident about her decision to focus on the Time Trial and believes that she knows what she has to do at the Msunduzi Road Challenge in order to qualify for the UWCT final in Slovenia next year.

“I am going to be doing a lot of all-out speed work and a lot of my training will be Time Trial based. I think that by focusing on this, it will really help me remain fresh and keep me motivated for the Final.

“My objectives have become geared towards remaining competitive. I will always ride to win but I don’t want to be in a situation where I just fade out of the sport and at the moment I feel that I still have it in me to be seriously competitive,” she added confidently.

Having gained more international experience at the MTB Masters World Champs, Cound believes she knows what she is up against at these international events and with two more coming up next year she feels that she will be ready to tackle them head on.

“Having two World Champs in South African such a short space of time was an absolute blessing and I knew that I had to keep competing in international races so next year I am going to ride in the MTB Marathon World Champs (also in Pietermaritzburg) and hopefully, if I qualify at the Msunduzi Road Challenge this year, the 2014 UWCT Final as well.

“With this sort of experience I will know what to expect and I have raced against a few of the other girls before as well.

“If I qualify at the Msunduzi it means that I will be in the middle of my age group which makes it a little more difficult with the younger girls coming through but that doesn’t bother me too much,” Cound explained.

It has been a long year for the teacher from Johannesburg and balancing her teaching and riding has proven to be fairly difficult, taking a lot out of her and subsequently altering her goals for the Msunduzi Road Challenge.

“Juggling a full-time job and training takes its toll and it’s important that I remain disciplined so my cycling doesn’t interfere with my work.

“I have struggled through the winter and so my aim for the Msunduzi Road Challenge has changed a bit and I am hoping that I can perform well enough just to qualify for next year’s Final and then really focus on that next year. If I win the Msunduzi then that is just a major bonus!” she said.

The 2013 Msunduzi Road Challenge takes place on 26 and 27 October 2013, based in Noodsburg outside Pietermaritzburg.


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