Siata Flying High
One of the top cycling teams in South Africa, Team Siata Cycling KZN are developing young riders and recently had two members participate at the Tour of Panama.
By Allister Arendse
One of Siata’s standout riders, Siyanda Gumede, 21, of Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal completed all six stages at the Tour of Panama as a member of the ProTouch Africa Club Team.
The tour was roughly 524km in total and Siyanda came in 136 out of 171 riders in the final stage. Day 1 started with 208 riders.
“It was really good for me and I enjoyed riding overseas,” he says. “This was my first time racing six stages. While racing I told myself I would have to save energy as it is a tour. Stage by stage the event got harder. I also had a little problem with the time zone and weather. It was extremely hot.
“I feel good about my performance because I finished all the stages. That tells me something about my cycling… How strong I am.
“I experienced a lot: how to ride in a big peloton, how to ride on breakaway and even how to ride as a team because we were not racing as individuals. We bring water for each other etc. I also made new friends there and learned some Spanish.”
Team member and fellow Siata rider Sean Wait crashed on Stage 2 and withdrew due to his injuries.
Siata was founded in 2018 by cyclist and aviator Ibrahim Sharif, 36. Ibrahim was born in Nigeria and cycled in England and then came to South Africa in 2013 and made contact with many people in the cycling industry.
“Chris Quinton, dad of Matthew Quinton, exposed me to professional racing. I started racing in my age category and saw the need to give back to the community and develop young riders.
“Young people needed attention. When I started Siata, I realised it’s time to start a proper team to develop youngsters… Aspirant riders who have the potential to go far,” he says. The results have been showing as the team got three gold, three silver and four bronze medals at this year’s KZN Track Cycling Championships.
“Our aim is to get youngsters exposed to racing and prepare them for the eyes of professional teams in South Africa and internationally.”
Some of their most promising riders are Thabiso Zindela, 17, Matthew Balmforth, 15, and Matthew Quinton, 9. Ibrahim still competes and was first at the KZN TT Championships in 2019 and placed third last year.
Follow Siata on Facebook @Team Siata Cycling KZN.
* Siyanda’s full results at Tour of Panama:
Stage 1: TT 24km. Position 121 out of 208
Stage 2: 95.1km. 142 out of 201
Stage 3: 111.3km. 183 out of 219
Stage 4: 95.1km. 102 out 219
Stage 5: 115.69km. 170 out of 219
Stage 6: 84.7km. 136 out of 171
Date published: October 2021.
Pics courtesy Team Siata Cycling KZN