When Tyler and Dusty Day started cycling, it was not with the aim of becoming champions or following in their well-known mother Liefie’s tracks – the teenage brothers were more concerned about their legs.

“I broke my leg playing rugby about four years ago and started riding to get back into shape,” says 21-year-old Tyler.
“Since then I haven’t stopped. It eventually got serious and I never played rugby again.”

For 23-year-old Dusty, who also started at age 17, the decision was a little less profound. “It’s actually quite funny; I just wanted nicer legs!”

Despite coming from a cycling family, the brothers were late bloomers and felt no pressure to take up the sport (Liefie herself only started at age 34 and went on to represent South Africa eight times at the road world championships).

The Klerksdorp-based siblings soon realised that cycling came naturally to them and that prompted the family to start their own team. They approached the municipality for sponsorship and so team Matlosana Westvaal was born.

Dusty still represents the outfit, which he hopes will make the step up to a full pro team next year. Tyler has already joined the paid ranks and earns his daily bread for Team Bonitas under Malcolm Lange.

Perhaps ringing in the start of a new era of sibling domination in a similar vein to the Wolhuters and Beneckes a generation earlier, the brothers came of age on the same day.

On February 6, Tyler won the country’s second oldest national classic, The Herald Volkswagen Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth, while Dusty crossed the line first in the ACSA Emperors Palace Cycling Classic in Johannesburg.

“That was actually my first big win,” says Dusty, “but I drifted a bit in the sprint so they relegated me to second. I did win the criterium though.”

He made amends later that month by winning the Carnival City Macsteel National Classic.

All eyes were on the Days a fortnight later when Tyler took the big one – the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour – ahead of Lange in a one-two finish for his team. Dusty had the best seat in the house and finished fourth.

“Obviously at my age it's a big win,” says Tyler. “I was fortunate and privileged to be in a position to make it happen.”

Although not a member of his brother’s pro team, Dusty stayed on Lange’s wheel to keep challengers like Herman Fouche (DCM) and Arran Brown (MTN-Qhubeka) at bay.

“I had been thinking about winning, but then I started thinking more about keeping them off Malcolm and Tyler’s wheels. I knew the preparation they did for the Argus so I basically tried to help them.”

“He’s doing so well, but he doesn’t have a team to support him at the finishes and on the climbs,” says Tyler. “That’s the main difference between us.”

Tyler has also been performing on the international stage, taking third in a sprint finish behind Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) and the legendary Robbie McEwan (RadioShack) in the first stage of the Tour of Mumbai the week after his breakthrough victory.

“That was quite a race,” he says. “It showed me that maybe I am good enough to compete internationally.”

Locally, he now has his sights set on winning the Amashova Durban Classic on October 16 and the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge on November 20.

Tyler is working hard on returning to form after breaking his collarbone in the Tour de Free State in August. He admits to feeling the pressure as his team’s only sprinter now that Lange has retired.

He would love to have his brother on his team and both agree that they ride well together because they know and read each other well.

Nowadays, the siblings can be seen training together at least four or five times a week in their hometown. Locals refer to them as “the Schlecks of the flat road”.

Although they were very competitive when they were younger, they soon realised that they needed to fight against their opposition not each other.

“We used to fight a lot on the bike while out training,” recalls Dusty. “One time we were out on the road and I don’t know what happened but I pushed him off the road and he got a flat wheel and I just rode away.

“He had to walk a long way but then I think I called my mother to go and get him. I really felt bad. I’m actually quite embarrassed about it.”

Off the bike, the two are also inseparable and spend a lot of time fishing, jetskiing, hunting and playing cricket.

Although he’s the older one, Dusty says Tyler is a lot more serious and seems to be growing up faster.

“He used to be much, much naughtier than me but I don’t know what’s happened. I think it’s his girlfriend,” he teases.

Tyler acknowledges the differences between him and his more outgoing ouboet, but says that’s what makes their relationship work. “We’ll never take the brotherhood out of our cycling.”

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Coetzee Gouws
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