By Quintin van Jaarsveld
Hayley Smith’s UCI MTB World Cup ended before it began after a crash forced her out of the Under-23 women’s cross-country race at Cascades MTB Park in Pietermaritzburg at the weekend.
The Uvongo star was primed to make her second UCI MTB World Cup appearance on a newly altered, extremely technical track on Sunday, but a hand injury sustained during a practice run on Friday derailed her plans.
“I am extremely disappointed that I could not race but due to the nature of the sport, these things happen and you have to accept it and look forward to the next event,” the Bell Equipment rider told eHowz!t.
Explaining what happened, Smith said: “I managed to do one lap without any problems, taking the A lines and was happy with the course and then I went back to do a second practice lap.
“I approached one of the new rock gardens with the gap jump a bit too fast and lost control of the bike and went over the handle bars into some rocks.”
The 19-year-old was taken to the medical tent where she received comforting news that she didn’t suffer any broken bones.
However, the injuries to her hand and index finger left her with no other alternative than to withdraw from the event. A despondent Smith received an injection into her index finger to numb the pain and left the venue to recover at home.
“I was very fortunate to come away with [just] a sprained hand and an injured index finger,” an optimistic Smith said.
“I also have a few roasties and bruises but those will heal faster than my hand. Unfortunately, this track is just too technical to try and ride without two good hands.”
Smith said she’s put the disappointment behind her and hopes to be fit in time for the nine-day joBerg2c mountain bike stage race, which will get underway at Heidelberg on 25 April.