South African cycling is on top of the world as fans and supporters celebrated major successes from their cycling heroes in the various disciplines of cycling at the weekend.
Saturday’s qualifying run at the second round of the UCI MTB World Cup (DHI #2) in Fort William was cancelled due to poor weather conditions, with strong crosswinds affecting most of the riders on the track.
Running both a qualifying run and a final run on Sunday did not deter one of the most consistent riders on the world circuit despite a weak hand. Three-time World Champion, Greg Minnaar (33), said before the race that he had battled a little in getting his bike set up in the gnarly weather conditions, but had managed to find a good line that he felt comfortable on. “My hand is healed but it's a little weak. I don't think it will be an issue. It’s all eyes on the final,” he said. And deliver he did!
Minnaar’s incredible victory at Fort William was his 17th World Cup victory in his illustrious career, equalling the most World Cup career wins with his Santa Cruz Syndicate teammate and stalwart Steve Peat!
Kicking off the medal tallies and setting the tone for the weekend was the South African Para-cycling team, who had travelled to Italy for the first round of the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup series in Maniago.
Handcycling H2 competitor, Justine Asher, claimed double gold when she won the 12.8km Time Trial on Friday and the 49.7km road race on Saturday. Asher’s performances also earned her the World Cup competition leader’s jersey. Craig Ridgard (C2) and Goldy Fuchs (T2) both narrowly missed the medals but finished in fourth places in their respective time trial races in amongst highly competitive fields. Despite a technical problem at the start, Gerhard Viljoen (T2) finished 8th in his time trial.
On Saturday, Fuchs added to the medal tally with a bronze medal in the 28.4km road race. Ridgard finished his 63.9km road race in the final bunch sprint and was awarded 9th place.
African Pro-Continental cycling team, Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung, competed in the prelude to the Tour de France – the Criterium du Dauphine – on Sunday. The 131.5km opening stage took riders from Ugine to Albertville.
Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot got into the early break of the day in the first 10km, riding in the lead group of four and notching up five of the KOM sprints. He was awarded the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey, the first World Tour jersey won in the team's history.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg’s massive effort in the final kilometre did not go unnoticed as he drove the leadout for Edwald Boasson Hagen. Boasson Hagen sprinted to 3rd place as the peloton attempted to reel in Team Sky’s Peter Kennaugh in the final metres, but Kennaugh claimed the stage victory.
On Friday, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Bigla Pro Cycling Team) posted the second fastest time in the 6.3km TT in the Auensteiner Radsporttage, a three-day stage race in Germany. Moolman-Pasio recorded a 7th place finish in the 96km second stage from Ilsfeld to Auenstein, which placed her 3rd in the GC on Saturday, and she went on to claim the race win on Sunday in a 127km stage from Ilsfeld to Auenstein and with that, the overall GC win.
Cross-country mountain bikers Rourke Croeser and Travis Walker, both racing for Team Full Dynamix, recorded podium posititions respectively at a XCO race in Italy on Sunday.
Back at home, Cycling SA crowned National Champions across all the race categories at the 2015 Ashburton Investments National MTB Series Van Gaalen, which doubled up as the South African Mountain Bike Marathon Championships powered by Stihl in the North West province on Saturday. The gruelling and demanding course in very cold conditions presented a thrilling day of racing with Gawie Combrinck (Team EAI Cycling) claiming his first national marathon title and Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) claiming her hat trick of titles.
Combrinck won the 111km Ultra Marathon distance in 4 hours 46 minutes and 53 seconds by almost 30 seconds to second and third placed Nico Bell (Team RECM) and Swiss rider Konny Looser (Wheeler iXS). In the women’s race, De Groot held a commanding lead claiming the 75km victory in 3 hours 36 minutes 8 seconds. Early leader and Sasol Racing star Yolande de Villiers completed the podium with Specialized/Freewheel Cycology rider Candice Neethling, third.
Junior riders Julian Jessop and Frankie du Toit cemented their status as the top young riders by claiming the national titles in their categories, while young Pieter du Toit and Tiffany Keep won the Youth national titles. National Championship titles were also awarded to the Sub Veteran, Veteran and Masters Men and Women’s categories.