Four of Team South Africa’s seven cyclists – Daryl Impey, Louis Meintjes, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and An-Li Kachelhoffer – are upbeat as they near the kick off the cycling campaign at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August.
Impey and Meintjes will get the wheels turning on the 256.4-kilometre Men’s Road Race course in Fort Copacabana at 09:30 (local time)/14:30 (SA time) on Saturday 6 August. *The route passes through Copacabana, Ipanema, Barra and Reserva Beach; and includes laps of the Grumari Circuit (four laps for men) and laps of the Canoas/Vista Chinesa Circuit (three for men).
Different racing strategies will emerge as the world’s best professional cyclists will be competing as National Teams.
London 2012 Olympian, Daryl Impey (31), is a five-time South African National Time Trial Champion and in 2013, he was the first South African to wear the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France, which he retained for two days. He delivered a solid result on Stage 7 in this year’s Tour de France when he summited the Lac de Payolle in second place, a phenomenal achievement for the sprinter; and his support throughout the race to his team, particularly in Stage 10 when he led teammate Michael Matthews (AUS) to victory in a commanding breakaway, was incredible to watch.
Impey said: “Preparations have gone well, none of us have been injured or sick after the Tour. My feelings have been satisfying this past week and I’m excited to get things underway and to give my best performance on Saturday.”
Coming off a remarkable Tour, where Meintjes kept South Africans enthralled as he steadily secured his position in the top 10 of the 2016 Tour de France General Classification, he finished the gruelling 21-day stage race in eighth place and was the second highest finisher in the Young Rider’s (White Jersey) Classification. He is also the 2015 African Continental Road Race Champion and 2014 SA National Road Race Champion. The 24-year-old climber will also be remembered for his second place in the 2013 U23 Road World Championships.
Meintjes said: “My preparations have been really good and the Tour has been perfect preparation for the Olympics and it gave me some confidence. We don’t often have the chance to race as a National Team so it’s going to be different to other races and very unpredictable.”
Moolman-Pasio and Kachelhoffer take to the 130.3-kilometre course in Fort Copacabana at 12:15 (local time)/17:15 (SA time) on Sunday 7 August. Racing along the same route as the Men, the Women’s race will only complete one lap of the Grumari Circuit and one lap of the Canoas/Vista Chinesa Circuit.
London 2012 Olympian Moolman-Pasio (30) has channelled her early season adversity and setbacks due to untimely illness and crashes into positive energy in the lead up to Rio. She recently repeated her success of last year by winning the three-stage Auensteiner Radsporttage in Germany, and went on to finished second in the overall standings after the five-day stage race – the Aviva Women’s Tour in Britain. Few will forget the memorable moment when Moolman-Pasio timed her lunge to perfection at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow to squeeze onto the podium by the slimmest of margins for a bronze medal. She is also a four-time SA National Road Race Champion, three-time SA National TT Champion and four-time African Continental Road Race Champion.
Having tested the 2016 Olympic Games Time Trial and Road Race courses, the climber and strong all rounder said: “Both courses suited me so well and the vibe and energy there was incredible, and I just gained such momentum being there.”
Moolman-Pasio is South Africa’s only TT competitor, and she can be seen in action in the Women’s Individual Time Trial in Pontal at 08:30 (local time)/13:30 (SA time) on Wednesday 10 August. The women will complete one lap of the 29.8-kilometre Grumari Circuit.
Twenty-eight-year-old Kachelhoffer is a great all-rounder and has been competing abroad with her European team this season. Kachelhoffer claimed the SA National Championship title this year in Westville for the first time in her career and also claimed the 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour victory. She also lists winning the Queen Stage of the Tour d’Ardeche in 2015 as one of her career highlights. Prior to cycling, Kachelhoffer was the 2007 20-24 age group Duathlon World Champion, and the 2005 Junior Biathle World Champion.
Kachelhoffer told iol.co.za**: “You can’t be selfish in a sport like this, and I really think Ashleigh has a proper shot at this, and the course suits her to perfection. Her form is the best I’ve seen her in which is really great and it puts it at the back of your mind that you are racing for the right cause here.”
You can watch the 2016 Rio Olympic Games Road Races and Time Trial for Men and Women on Supersport at the following viewing times:
Saturday 6 August: Men’s Road Race - DSTV SS6 from 14:20;
Sunday 7 August: Women Road Race - DSTV SS6 from 17:00;
Wednesday 10 Augsut: Men and Women’s Time Trial - DSTV SS6 from 13:25.
South Africa’s cyclists will be racing in a brand new Olympic edition cycling kit. The design is the creative work of one of our office ladies, Tarryn Duncan.