Continental Road Champs medals while Team SA aims high for Tokyo

South Africans returned home from the 2019 African ROAD Continental Championships in Baher Dar, Ethiopia (14-19 March) with seven medals in hand after a tough week of racing in the north. For the National Federation, the continental championships was a very important event due to its high points’ load. All South Africa’s international-based riders as well as the federation share the common goal on the number of riders to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. It was vitally important that our top riders were in contention in order to maximise our points haul.

Our first four medals went to the Elite Women’s Time Trial Team of Liezel Jordaan, Carla Oberholzer, Zanri Rossouw and Joanna van de Winkel, who scored bronze medals early in the competition. The South Africans completed the 30-kilometre route in 47 minutes 58.8 seconds with home nation Ethiopia taking gold in 44 minutes 46.03 and Eritrea the silver medals (00:45:44.06).

The Individual Time Trial uncovered two medals for the Elite Men when Stefan de Bod (23) and Ryan Gibbons (25) won gold and bronze respectively. Eritrean Sirak Tesfom held the “hot seat” for a while, while Gibbons tackled the 50km route, finishing in a time of 01:02:53.65. De Bod’s effort on the flat route saw him set the fastest time of 01:00:47.67.

“It is great to take the African Time Trial title. For the growth of the sport on our continent, these events are really important for us. Each year the level of African racing increases, so I am happy to have come out on top today,” said De Bod in the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka press release.

Although favourably a hillclimber, Van de Winkel had made a break which resulted in a sprint finish in the 89.6-kilometre Elite Women’s road race along the flat out-and-back route. Eritrean Mosana Debesay (26) won gold ahead of Eyeru Gebru and Van de Winkel in a time of 02:48:05.

Littered with a number of attacks and counter-attacks, the South African team realised that they would have to make the race with an attack that would stick. With Van de Winkel launching ahead, it was Eritrean Mosana Debesay and Ethiopian Eyeru Gebru who bridged the gap and decided amongst the three of them that they would make the move work. Unfortunately for Zanri and Liezel, they were involved in a crash which resulted in them abandoning the race.

“I was sceptical about being in the break as I am not a sprinter and I was supposed to be supporting Carla as our strongest sprinter, especially with Liezel out of the race after the crash. Mosana and I pushed it and extended our gap to about three minutes from the chase group, but in the end I lost the sprint against Mosana with Eyeru pipping me at the post,” said Van de Winkel.

Speaking about the improved level of women’s racing on the continent, Van de Winkel said, “The north African teams are a lot stronger than what I remember from my last continental race in 2012. Namibia and Mauritius used to be our strongest contenders but the north Africans have really made great strides in the sport.”

The Elite Men’s race saw Ryan Gibbons miss a podium position by a whisker, recording a fourth place behind race winner Mekseb Debesay (ERI) 03:49:48, Azzedine Lagab 03:49:53 and Youcef Reguigui 03:50:12 (both ALG) along the 166.4km race. South African World Tour Team riders for Dimension Data for Qhubeka who competed in the road race were Gibbons, de Bod, Nicholas Dlamini and Jacques Janse van Rensburg.

The current UCI Road Olympic Qualification Men Ranking reflects South Africa in 13th* position for Elite Men and 5th* position for Elite Women (SA Championships UCI points have not yet been included). As per the Cycling SA Agenda 2020 document (which can be downloaded here) South Africa’s goal rank for Men is between 10-21, while the Women’s goal rank is 7-13 in order to qualify a maximum road cycling team to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Women’s team riders receive a reimbursement of 100% of their costs, whilst the Men’s team will receive 60% reimbursement for the highest ranking rider having finished fourth. *Information correct at time of publishing.

Summary of Results – 2019 African ROAD Continental Championships – Baher Dar, ETHIOPIA

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Elite Men RR 166.4km

  1. DEBESAY Mekseb (ERI) 03:49:48

  2. LAGAB Azzedine (ALG) 03:49:53

  3. REGUIGUI Youcef (ALG) 03:50:12

  4. GIBBONS Ryan (RSA) 03:50:12

Elite Women RR 89.6km

  1. DEBESAY Mosana (ERI) 02:48:05

  2. GEBRU Eyeru Tesfoam (ETH) 02:48:05

  3. VAN DE WINKEL Joanna (RSA) 02:48:05

Monday 18 March 2019

Junior Men RR 89.6km

  1. UHIRIWE Renus (RWA) 02:30:23

  2. ASMEROM TESFASILASIE Yoel (ERI) 02:30:23

  3. BERHANE Gebrihiwet (ERI) 02:30:23

Junior Women RR 76.8km

  1. TSEGAY Danait (ERI) 01:22:03

  2. INGABIRE Diane (RWA) 01:22:03

  3. RUSSOM Yordanos (ERI) 01:22:03

Sunday 17 March 2019

Men Elite ITT 50km

  1. DE BOD Stefan (RSA) 01:00:47.67

  2. TESFOM Sirak (ERI) 01:01:51.62

  3. GIBBONS Ryan (RSA) 01:02:53.65

Women Elite ITT 30km

  1. AMHA Selam (ETH) 00:45:45.80

  2. GEBRU Eyeru Tesfoam (ETH) 00:46:06.55

  3. TEKESTE Desiet (ERI) 00:46:22.75

Men Junior ITT 30km

  1. BEREHE Welay (ETH) 00:41:22.94

  2. OKBU Metkel (ERI) 00:41:56.07

  3. REDAE Tesfu (ETH) 00:42:18.45

Women Junior ITT 15km

  1. TSESFAY Teklehaimanot (ETH) 00:22:53.04

  2. TSEGAY Danait (ERI) 00:22:56.36

  3. FESSEHAYE Birikti (ERI) 00:23:03.56

Friday 15 March 2019

Women Elite TTT 30km

  1. ETHIOPIA 00:44:46.03
    GEBRU Eyeru Tesfoam; AMHA Selam; BEYENE Tsega; REDA Haftu

  2. ERITREA 00:45:44:06
    DEBESAY Mosana; TEKESTE Desiet; FITSUM Zinab; GEBREHIWET Tigisti

  3. SOUTH AFRICA 00:47:58:80
    JORDAAN Liezel; OBERHOLZER Carla; ROSSOUW Zanri; VAN DE WINKEL Joanna

Men Junior TTT 30km

  1. ETHIOPIA 00:41:23.59
    REDAE Tesfu; BEREHE Welay; DEBAY Zer Abruk; ABEBE Selemon

  2. ERITREA 00:41:36:30
    OKBU Metkel; BERHANE Gebrihiwet; TEWELDE Mehari; ASMEROM TESFASILASIE Yoel

  3. RWANDA 00:42:57:16
    HABIMANA Jean Eric; GAHEMBA Barnabe; MUHOZA Eric; UHIRIWE Renus