The move to Belgium’s ASFRA Flanders Racing Team is a big step up for Turkish cyclist Azize Bekar, she said, calling it a milestone in her young career.
“Of course I’m very happy and thrilled and I’m trying to adapt myself. I didn’t expect it, but I wanted to be here. My goal is to take part in the 2024 Summer Olympics” in Paris, Bekar, 18, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
For the Olympics, she said, “I knew I should be in a foreign club. So I feel that I have more responsibility and I’m working more for it,” adding the she wants to represent Turkey well in the mountain biking category.
On her ambitions, she said: “I want to be the best female cycling athlete in MTB [Mountain Biking] for 10 years.”
Bekar said she started focusing on road cycling as her new team rides on the road.
“The only way to succeed is to love cycling. You have to love to cycle whatever the circumstances. Patience, tenacity and discipline [are key].”
She named a Swiss cyclist as her idol.
“Jolanda Neff has continued to love cycling despite several injuries. Two or three months ago, she had an accident. [She sustained a] ruptured spleen and her ribs were fractured. She recovered and still does mountain biking.”
In December, Neff, 27, was involved in a serious accident while mountain biking in the U.S., causing major injuries.
“My lungs partially collapsed, I broke a rib, and my spleen got ruptured, which caused internal bleeding,” the former world champion said on her Instagram account, adding that she is out of competition until after March.
Bekar cycling for Belgian team in global contests
Bekar joined the ASFRA Flanders Racing team on Monday.
The Turkish Cycling Federation previously said that Bekar moved to the Belgian team for international competitions with the approval of her International Cyclist Union (UCI) license.
In local tournaments, it added, she will compete for Turkey’s Karaman Duru Bulgur Performans SK.
There are now two female cyclists on the ASFRA Flanders Racing team: Bekar, and Nele Venneman from Oudenaarde, Belgium.
The ASFRA Flanders Racing Team is based in Oudenaarde in the Flemish province of East Flanders.