Interest in this week's UCI World Cycling Tour Final continued to grow with the staging of the second of two pre-event races yesterday, the Mt Verde Road Challenge, with Slovenia's Igor Kopše claiming a comfortable confidence boosting victory in the 60km category.
The 35-39 men's competitor took full advantage of the opportunity to stretch his legs on the tough, hilly terrain of the Mt Verde Country Estate in Hilton after a full two days of travelling in order to compete in this year's final.
“It was a long trip getting here. I had to get onto four different planes and spend a long time travelling so it was very good to get on the bike again,” said Kopše. “I finished third in the road race and second in the time trial in the qualifying event at home but I'm not sure who else is riding in my age group so I have no idea how well I might do.
Having sat with Kopše for the majority of the way, David de Vecchi fell of the pace a little on the final lap of the five-lap affair and came home in second place.
Men's 35-39 defending champ, James Mattis (USA), claimed third whilst his wife, Kathryn Mattis, took the spoils in the ladies race.
“The top guys are just so fast so there was no ways I was going to be able to stick with them but after 48 hours of travelling it was really good to come out and have a bit of a ride again. Its good for the jetlag and for the head,” said Kathryn.
The former pro cyclist was also full of praise for the event organisers and South Africa in general. “It’s just been superbly put together so far. The hill climb yesterday and the race today were really great ideas and then the supper functions in the evenings have really helped pull the whole cycling community together and make the event feel like a whole week's experience and not just a couple of races,” said Kathryn.
“The whole concept of the UWCT is really great too. Having competed in two world champs whilst I was a pro that is obviously the crème de la crème and the UCI have really done a great job in recreating that kind of level event for amateurs through the UWCT.”
As many of their fellow competitors are also expected to do, the Mattis’ plan to utilise the event as a platform to explore South Africa for the first time when they spend an extra week in the country after the racing comes to an end.
“It would be crazy to come all this way and not spend some time here afterwards,” said James. “We're off to Kruger National Park afterwards and will also spend a couple of days in Durban.”
Riders were also able to take part in the 36km and 48km categories of the event however the majority of these participants found the combination of travel, the tough terrain and misty conditions just a little too much and called it a day a lap or two early.
Summary of Results – Mt Verde Road Race
Men – 60km
- Igor Kopše (Slovenia)
- David de Vecchi (France)
- James Mattis (USA)
- Kathryn Mattis (USA)
Programme of Events – UCI World Cycling Tour Final 2012
- Thursday 23rd August 2012 - UWCT Time Trial Competition
- Saturday 25th August 2012 - UWCT Final 61km Race and UWCT Final 96km Race
- Sunday 26th August 2012 - UWCT 112km Race
More information can be found at www.uwctfinal.co.za.
Photo: Anthony Grote/Gameplan Media