SHOOT: Like many other cyclists and laymen alike, I've been very moved by the accident that took the life of 23 year old Carla Swart. The manner of death reminds us that this could have happened to anyone at any random moment. Of course her life could not have been more extraordinary.
Carla is the first athlete ever to secure US collegiate titles in all cycling disciplines in a single year, new HTC-Highroad recruit Carla Swart could easily have 'versatility' as her middle name. However, adapting successfully has always been part of Swart's life, who was born in South Africa, but moved with her family to Georgia in the USA aged 15. As if that change wasn't big enough, Swart then headed to Lees-McRae College in North Carolina in 2006 to take on a joint scholarship in not one but two sports, cycling and running.
Now 22 years old , Swart's breakthrough season was 2008 when she secured collegiate championships in MTB, track, cyclo-cross and road-racing. Overall she's currently taken 19 national titles, a total never previously before achieved by any US collegiate cyclist. Given her multiple talents, it's not surprising when Swart says, "it's been kind of hard to figure out which direction to head in my professional career. I do well in climbing but in sprints I don't do badly, so maybe I'll focus on being a good all-round rider for now and see where that takes me."
In her fullest year to date racing with professional squads, in 2010, Swart has shown promising results in all kinds of terrain and all over the world.
She scored eighth in the notoriously difficult Ronde Van Drenthe World Cup classic in Holland, captured the Best Young Rider's award in the Tour de L'Aude stage race in France, won the the sprinter's jersey in the Cascade Classic in the USA and clinched bronze in both the national time trial and road titles back home in South Africa. "My result in Drenthe was the one I was most satisfied with," Swart says, "because it was the first time I got a top ten in a World Cup event in my first block of international classic racing. Half-way through the race I got away and and got a big gap on the field, and it was amazing how it worked out in the end."
HTC-Highroad were quick to pick up on Swart's consistently strong results and she has now inked a deal for a full-time pro contract with the team for 2011, joining another up-and-coming US rider, Evelyn Stevens in the HTC-Highroad line-up."I know Evelyn very well because she guested on our collegiate team when she got her first win," Swart says, "and I'm looking forward to racing alongside her again."
2nd place Sunny King Criterium (NRC)
3rd place National Championships South Africa I.T.T.
4th place National Championships South Africa R.R.