American time trial stars stole the show at the start of the UCI World Cycling Tour Final at Wartburg outside Pietermaritzburg winning five of the seventeen gold medals on offer, with three local riders also clinching coveted UCI jerseys that are presented to the new amateur world champions.
USA stars Richard "Ringo" Feldman from Ketchum, Idaho won his seventh masters world title and showed his class and experience as he posted the fastest time overall en route to winning the title in the men's 40-45 year age category, racing in cool clear weather over the 26km course with a steady breeze playing a role in the racing.
His 33 minutes 26 seconds time was almost two minutes faster than any other time posted on the day, underscoring his strength and experience in the time trial.
He dedicated the win to his mother-in-law who has just passed away. Feldman will be head straight back to the airport to be able to attend her funeral.
“Each win is special and to defend a championship is always great,” said Feldman. “The first one is always tremendous but then to come back and renew it is always a treat because come January the 1st every year you have to wipe the slate clean and rewrite history. It's tremendous to come to Africa and great to be able to race elsewhere in the world outside of Europe.”
Berkeley professor Molly van Houweling added another gold to the US swag in the women's 35-39 category, and posted the fastest women's time, one of only two women's to break the 40-minute barrier into the time trial.
“A lot of preparation has gone into this at home – it has been the focus of my season. I also spent four days on the course beforehand checking it out, which was really important with the fog in the morning,” said van Houweling.
“It was nerve racking coming here because I have never competed against South African riders before and they were really fast,” she added. “After the first leg I was behind and had to make up a lot of time on the second leg.”
Van Houweling will jet home to contest the US Elite Road Champs before undergoing surgery to repair damage to her elbow from a massive crash at last year's US champs.
South African star and current African champion Lynette Burger romped to a popular local victory in the 30-34 age group, and said that she had paced her race carefully getting updates from her fiancé about times she needed to win the UCI rainbow jersey.
“To get those stripes means everything,” said Burger. “I have been the South African champion in the elite category but to now win the rainbow stripes means everything.”
There was jubilation for the enthusiastic contingent from Norway as they bagged three world titles, equalling the South African haul of rainbow jerseys. Nina Rise Oddan shrieked hysterically when her time in the 40-44 category was confirmed. “I am so satisfied, it is an absolute dream come true!” she gushed.
Christiaan Rossouw was the first South African man to win a world title in the time trial, winning impressively in the 60-64 age group in what was always going to be the end of his competitive riding career.
“I am absolutely ecstatic, it is my biggest achievement,” said Rossouw. “I have only been cycling for eight year and this is the ultimate goal that I have been aiming for. I couldn't have asked for a better finish to my competitive career.
“It is excellent to have this event here in South African and the vibe has been fantastic,” he said. “It has also helped lift the standard of amateur cycling in South Africa.
Local cycling icon Andrew McLean was pipped to the rainbow jersey in a thrilling men's 45-49 age group time trial by US star Cale Rheeder. “I have no problem coming second to a class rider,” said McLean. “Besides I always have the road race on the weekend to redeem myself!”
The riders enjoy a rest day on Friday before the road races on Saturday and Sunday, starting and finishing at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg.
More information can be found at www.uwctfinal.co.za.
Winners per Age Category – Time Trial – UCI World Cycling Tour Final
- F60 : Julia Emblin (AUS)
- F55 : Ann Marie Miller (USA)
- F50 : Sissel Vien (NOR)
- F45 : Gabriela Schumacher (GER)
- F40 : Nina Rise Oddan (NOR)
- F35 : Molly Van Houweling (USA)
- F30 : Lynette Burger (RSA)
- F16 : Megan Cea (USA)
- M65 : Gunnar Fjellberg (NOR)
- M60 : Christiaan Rossouw (RSA)
- M55 : Michael Barfoed (DEN)
- M50 : Michael Pfeil (GER)
- M45 : Cale Reeder (USA)
- M40 : Richard Feldman (USA)
- M35 : Igor Kopse (SLO)
- M30 : Jeremy Maartens (RSA)
- M16 : Simon Collard (BEL)