The world of cycling is once again in mourning following the deaths of two talented young bike riders.
South African Carla Swart – a member of the top-level women’s cycling team HTC-Highroad – and 18-year-old British rider Lewis Balyckyi were both killed in cycling accidents.
Swart – 23 – was training in the Free State province of South Africa on Wednesday morning when she was hit by a truck.
Swart had joined the women’s HTC-Highroad team having become the first athlete to ever win US collegiate titles in every cycling discipline – MTB, track, cyclo-cross and road – in a single season, in 2008.
Having chosen to concentrate on the road, last season Swart took eighth in the Ronde Van Drenthe World Cup and won the best young rider’s jersey at the Tour de l’Aude, as well as the bronze medal in the South African TT national championships.
Her results caught the attention of HTC, and she had only recently returned to South Africa having attended the team’s training camp together with the men’s squad in California.
The HTC-Highroad team paid tribute to their rider on their website: “Carla, in such a short time you became part of our family and touched us all with your vibrant personality and your constant smile. You infected us with your zest for life and we will forever have you in our hearts.”
Balyckyi – who was a member of the Preston-based Team Wallis-CHH cycling team – was killed whilst out training in Bretherton, near Preston in Lancashire, on Tuesday evening.
A former member of British Cycling’s Olympic Talent Team and the 2008 youth circuit national champion, Balyckyi was hoping to move up to the Olympic Development Programme.
He had recently been selected for funding from the John Ibbotson Fund, which helps young riders race abroad, and was set to race in Brittany this season with a French club.
Anyone with any more information about the accident – which happened at 5pm on Tuesday evening, involving a Ford Transit van – should contact the police on 08451 25 35 45, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.