In the brief period of only three years during which she was a professional mountain biker, she certainly made her presence felt. Last year she won the South African marathon title, as well as the women’s Absa Cape Epic with Sally Bingham (Britain) as partner.

She was a consistent podium finisher in the MTN National marathon series and had also competed in European road races for a short period.

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Photo credit Zoon Cronje - www.zcmc.co.za

However, all good things eventually come to an end. This is why the MTN Ride Crater Cruise in Parys on Saturday (13 October) will be Van Jaarsveld’s last race as a professional rider.

With a little bit of luck, Van Jaarsveld might just be able to exit with the proverbial ‘bang’.

She is currently third overall in the MTN National MTB women’s series.

Ariane Kleinhans (Contego), last year’s winner, leads with 19 590 points. Theresa Ralph () is second with 18 644 points, followed by Van Jaarsveld with 16 286 points.

It will be interesting to see whether Kleinhans and Ralph will compete in the MTN Ride Crater Cruise because both of them were in action at the UCI World Marathon Championship in Ornans, France, last Sunday (7 October).

Kleinhans finished 16th, 39 minutes behind Annika Langvad (Denmark), but Ralph did not finish the race.

If they should decide to compete on Saturday, they might be hampered by jet lag.

Kleinhans, however, is in the lucky position that her five best results in the series will be taken into account when the overall winner is determined.

Van Jaarsveld promised to do her utmost on Saturday, but she added that she was not able to train seriously during the past few weeks because of her job commitments. “One of two things can happen. I may either ride an absolute blinder and win, or I may be in for a very long day in the saddle.

“We will just have to wait and see.” According to Van Jaarsveld she always enjoys the MTN Ride Crater Cruise. It is a tougher race than many people think, but it is also a fair race. There are long stretches where you can ride in a group, trying to save some energy, but in the end the route favours those riders who can push themselves to the limit.”

Van Jaarsveld, who holds a master’s degree in marketing, cites her business commitments as the reason why she has decided to retire as a professional cyclist. I manage my own marketing company and I am also the owner, as well as manager, of a successful swimwear boutique (Banana Moon) in Rosebank, Johannesburg.

“I have reached the stage where I realize that my business commitments should be my first priority. This year has been my busiest year as a professional rider. I just cannot afford to spend so much time away from work any longer. The act of juggling between racing and business has just become too complicated.

“If I am quite honest, I must also admit that I have fulfilled my two most important cycling ambitions, namely to win a SA title and the Absa Cape Epic. There is no carrot for me to chase any longer. I will never stop racing, but from next year I will do it on my own terms. I will race for fun but, believe me, if there is an opportunity to win, I will go for it.”

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Photo credit Zoon Cronje - www.zcmc.co.za