Carla Swart, a member of the HTC-Highroads women’s cycling team was killed while training in South Africa this morning. The cause of death was being hit by a truck.
Among Swart’s high-profile team members on the men’s team is Mark Cavendish, a master sprinter who won six stages at the 2009 Tour de France.
Swart was hit by a truck when she turned around to pick up a cycling computer that she had dropped on the road, said Barry Austin, Cycling South Africa’s team manager who saw the accident happen.
“I could see how the driver slammed on his brakes. He even swerved to the right so as to avoid smashing into Swart, but it was to no avail. The truck hit Swart full on, flinging her into the air,” Austin said, according to a report by CyclingNews.com.
The 23-year-old moved to Georgia in the United States from her native South Africa when she was 15 years old. When she was 18, she became the first to win collegiate titles in all cycling events including mountain bike, track, road and cyclo cross.
Overall Swart has won 19 national titles, a total never previously before achieved by any US collegiate cyclist. Before her death, Swart said, “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 had “shown promising results in all kinds of terrain and all over the world,” according to the team website.
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, according to the Team.
“My result in Drenthe was the one I was most satisfied with,” Swart is quoted to have said on her page on the team website, “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.”
For more on Swart, visit Velonation’s coverage by writer Shane Stokes.