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Carla Swart 

Carla Swart has been killed in a traffic incident in South Africa. The twenty-three year old joined the US based professional team HTC-Highroad for the 2011 season and made a huge impact upon her new team-mates and staff with her energy and amiable character. Her death represents a huge loss to the team, her family and friends.

Swart was hit by a truck while riding in the central Free State province of her native South Africa. 

Image: Carla smiling after winning the Mountain Leader jersey in Montreal in 2009

The HTC-High Road men's team is competing at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, Australia and posted the following message on their team site: “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.” The team wore black arm bands during the race today in memory of team-mate Carla Swart.

Swart moved with her family to the United States as a teenager and earned both cycling and running scholarships to North Carolina’s Lees-McRae College.

From there, she earned a total of 19 national titles to become the most decorated rider in U.S. collegiate cycling history. She was also the first athlete to win national titles across all four disciplines of collegiate cycling in one year.

In 2010 she gave a glimpse of talent to come, winning the “Best Young Rider” award at the Tour de l’Aude stage race in France. She competed for South Africa at the Geelong World Championships (finishing tenth) and rode for Team MTN during 2009 and 2010 during short racing blocks for the UCI-registered South African team in Europe. She planned to continue her career in the pro ranks in 2011, having just signed a full-time pro contract with HTC-Highroad.

“We were terribly sorry to learn today of Carla Swart’s tragic passing and we extend our most sincere condolences to Carla’s family, friends and teammates,” said Steve Johnson, USA Cycling CEO. “Words fail me at times like this, but I do know the world has lost a wonderful spirit and that she will be sorely missed. It is tragic and extremely sad when anyone’s life is cut short but particularly so when it is someone we know and with whom we shared her and her teammates’ success and joy at Collegiate Nationals.”

“Carla will be missed dearly by the collegiate cycling community,” said USA Cycling Collegiate Program Manager, Jeffrey Hansen. “Her talent and friendship will not be forgotten. She had an incredible impact on our sport.”

Womenscycling.net have followed Carla's development over the last few years. She is a sad loss to the future of women's professional cycling. Our thoughts are with her family and teammates.

 
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