Norwegian road cycling superstar Vita Heine (HITEC Products) made it two-out-of-two for the KZN Summer Series when she claimed a calculated victory after 118 kilometres in the saddle during the Queen Sibiya Classic, in a time of three hours 18 minutes and 10 seconds at Midmar Dam on Thursday 17 November. Dane Marie Vilmann (Cervelo-Bigla) finished second in 03:18:18 while South African Carla Oberholzer (Demacon Cycling Team) finished in third place in 03:18:19.
From roughly 10 kilometres into the race, there were attempts at breakaways on the descents, but they were all contained within 30 seconds. With a strong tempo early on, it was at this point that riders started dropping from the main bunch.
The peloton remained together through the meandering hills of the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal Midlands towards Nottingham Road, where the route took the riders past Rosetta through to Mooi River. Heine, the previous day’s winner, could always be seen in the top five at the front of the peloton.
At the 18-kilometre mark, riders were greeted with the most exquisite views and scenery that the lush, green Midlands had to offer. Time Freight eTeam’s Zanele Tshoko made an attempt to head up the front of the group at 19 kilometres, while the race was taking its early toll on the back of the field with riders dropping off the main bunch.
After several failed breakaway attempts, five riders made a decisive break at the 46-kilometre mark. Heine, Vilmann and Oberholzer with South African Candice Neethling (Pretoria Box Pro Cycling) and Namibian Vera Adrian (Time Freight eTeam) extended their lead to two minutes 28 seconds until just under 97 kilometres into the race.
Then, the unique and most-talked about section was upon them as they prepared to tackle the district gravel road en route to Curry’s Post, just past the Nelson Mandela Capture Site in the Lions River Valley. At this point, the pace slowed as the intense climb began, with Adrian and Neethling dropping back slightly at the 100-kilometre mark.
With the lead trio of Heine, Vilmann and South Africa’s hope of a podium, Oberholzer, on their own in the front, they powered ahead through the Main Street in Howick and back to Midmar Dam where, in a repeat of yesterday’s action, Heine calculated her winning move to perfection once again.
Race winner, Norway’s Vita Heine (HITEC Products) said: “At about 40 or 50 kilometres, our team was covering every attack so we started to attack as well. When it was my turn I was lucky and got a big gap with four others. We were then together all the way until the gravel. In the gravel, I put in a little bit more speed until there were only three of us girls going to the finish together. Then I attacked – it was fun! The gravel wasn’t different or hard for me in any way; I’ve had much worse.”
Second-placed Dane Marie Vilmann (Cervelo-Bigla) said: “Today’s race was a little bit easier than yesterday’s but it was still really hard. We were lucky with the team, who were covering when there were attacks. Suddenly I just went away with the right people including Vita Heine from HITEC. Then we were five girls, and we all worked together until the gravel section, which was really hard. There was a lot of climbing and everybody was tired from yesterday. Vita managed to attack on the second-to-last corner and I just tried so hard, but I was so tired. I am very happy to have finished second.”
South African Carla Oberholzer (Demacon Cycling Team) finished in third place: “After yesterday’s stage, I wasn’t disappointed. It was an okay race but I really hoped to do better today. And then when I saw the move going I realised the quality of girls that was in the move and I just knew I had to go in there and do my absolute best because it was going to be my best shot at good results.
“To be the only South African on the podium is really something special as well and a great honour. I had a very good support system and an amazing team and amazing sponsors who really make life so much easier so it’s a great privilege.”
South African Steven Sergeant, who is the Team Manager for Norwegian-based HITEC Products, said: “It was fantastic bringing my team out. We planned this quite late in the season and arrived here with three sprinters out of the five. Looking at the circuit, it was always going to be quite challenging. Our main aim was to have a good result at the Telkom 947. But coming out of these races was fantastic and looking at the roads, the organisation and the work that Alec (Lenferna) has done is absolutely fantastic. I’m pretty excited to win these two races with my team. I’m also a South African, and so winning with my team in my home country is really special.”
As part of the on going UCI Bike City project in conjunction with KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sport and Recreation and Msunduzi Municipality, the KZN Summer Series for Women will be staged on 16 and 17 November 2016 and is made up of two international UCI 1.2 races that will take place on these dates. The races are both one-day races and will be staged in the vicinity of Pietermaritzburg and surrounds. The two races will be known as The Queen Nandi Challenge and The Queen Sibiya Classic respectively – as these are women’s only races, and the first time that women’s only races have been staged here in South Africa without a men’s race also taking place we want to have strong women icons attached to the races and also identifiable with the Zulu nation and the region.
For more information and full results from the KZN Summer Series, click here: www.cyclingsa.com/2016-kzn-summer-series/.
Summary of Results – 2016 KZN Summer Series Women’s Race (UCI 1.2)
Queen Sibiya Classic – 118km – 17 November 2016
1.Vita HEINE (NOR) HITEC Products 03:18:10
2.Marie VILMANN (DEN) Cervelo Bigla 03:18:18
3.Carla OBERHOLZER (RSA) Demacon Cycling Team 03:18:19
4.Vera ADRIAN (NAM) Time Freight eTeam 03:19:26
5.Cecilie UTTROP LUDWIG (DEN) Cervelo Bigla 03:20:29
6.Anriette SCHOEMAN (RSA) Team Bestmed ASG 03:20:31
7.Charlotte BECKER (GER) HITEC Products 03:20:32
8.Margarita GARCIA (ESP) Bizkaia-Durango 03:20:32
9.Eden BEKELE HAILEMARIYAN (ETH) World Cycling Centre Africa 1 03:20:33
10.An-li KACHELHOFFER (RSA) Pretoria Box Pro Cycling 03:20:33
11.Samantha SANDERS (RSA) Demacon Cycling Team 03:20:35
12.Lise OLIVIER (RSA) Time Freight eTeam 03:20:39
13.Gabrielle PILOT-FORTIN (CAN) Cervelo Bigla 03:20:40
14.Eyeru TESFOAM (ETH) World Cycling Centre Africa 1 03:20:44
15.Candice NEETHLING (RSA) Pretoria Box Pro Cycling 03:20:53
16.Simona FRAPPORTI (ITA) HITEC Products 03:22:07
17.Emilie MOBERG (NOR) HITEC Products 03:22:07
18.Clara KOPPENBURG (GER) Cervelo Bigla 03:22:08
19.Heidi DALTON (RSA) Demacon Cycling Team 03:22:08
20.Michelle BENSON (RSA) Pretoria Box Pro Cycling 03:22:09