HTC-Highroad's Carla Swart tragically killed during training ride
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

HTC-Highroad's Carla Swart tragically killed during training ride

by Shane Stokes at 10:42 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Talented young rider will be greatly missed

Carla SwartSet for a strong debut season with the HTC-Highroad women’s team, Carla Swart has tragically been killed in an accident with a truck today. The 23 year old rider was training in the Free State province in South Africa this morning. Details are scarce about what happened, but the cycling world is responding with messages of condolences and also appreciation for the person she was.

Swart was born in South Africa but moved to Georgia, USA when she was 15 years old. She took up a joint cycling/running scholarship with Lees-McRae College in North Carolina in 2006, and two years later made history when she became the first to win collegiate titles in all cycling disciplines, namely mountainbike, track, road racing and cyclo cross.

With 19 national titles in all, her class was obvious and she underlined this when she had a very strong season last year. Riding with the MTN women’s team, she took the best young rider award in the Tour de l’Aude, won the sprinter’s jersey in the Cascade Classic, was third in both the road race and time trial titles in South Africa and finished eighth in the gruelling Ronde Van Drenthe World Cup classic. She was also a fine tenth in the world road race championship in Geelong.

“My result in Drenthe was the one I was most satisfied with,” she said at the end of last year. “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.”

Swart was also eighth in the road race at the Commonwealth Games last autumn. The performances led to her securing a pro deal with the HTC-Highroad team for 2011, and she was determined to ride strongly in her first year with the US squad.

"It's been kind of hard to figure out which direction to head in my professional career,” she said in advance of the start of the season. “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.”

Sadly, she won’t have a chance to show that versatility. Her passing was met with disbelief from many in cycling, with HTC-Highroad team-mate Ina Yoko Teutenberg paying a short tribute on her Twitter account. “She was one of the most vibrant people I met and made everybody smile,” she wrote today. “She has been taken from us way too early. RIP Carla.”

Her new team also paid tribute to her. “Carla was new to our team in 2011 and after only a short amount of time she endeared herself to everybody and became part of our family,” it said. “Her enthusiasm and spirit was engaging and she had the ability to make everybody smile around her. She had a remarkable talent and looked forward to a very bright future. Our thoughts and hearts are with her family and we will honour her in the days and months ahead."

VeloNation would also like to express our sympathies to her family and all who knew her.

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