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Evans and Moolman up for the challenge

Climbers stood out at the 2009 Telkom Satellite Challenge 107-kilometre cycle race at the weekend, with Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) and Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Supercycling), claiming the men and women’s titles respectively.

The event, which took place in hot, clear conditions in the vicinity of Hartebeespoort, southwest of Pretoria, doubled as round nine of the 13-race Alpha Pharm Seeding Series, the most prestigious road cycling series in the country.

The Series has been dominated by sprinters so far, but the race route for the Telkom event, with most of its 950 metres of climbing in the final 20km, would change that.

In the men’s race, Arran Brown (Medscheme) was intent on retaining the green Series leader’s jersey, but as a sprinter, it was always going to be a tough task.

A large crash halfway into the race reduced the contender list somewhat, but with the 4km climb up Hekpoort still to come, there was an almost tangible air of anticipation and fear.

A six-rider break, comprising a member of each of the big teams reached the base of Hekpoort first, but it broke up as the gradient and pace began to take their toll. By the summit of the climb Evans, Hanco Kachelhoffer (Medscheme), Johann Rabie (Neotel) and Ian McLeod (MTN Energade) were at the head of the field.

Evans attacked at the top, taking only Rabie along. They set their sights on the final 16km and shared the pacesetting, building up a lead of 25 seconds at one point. A regrouping behind saw a strong chase pack form. But Evans and Rabie had timed their ride to perfection.

Evans attacked Rabie on the final few metres of ascent before diving into the final downhill kilometre to secure his first major road race win of the year in a quick time of 2hr 23min 11sec. Rabie finished one second later, with Brown putting in an impressive effort to win the small chase-bunch gallop for third place and extend his Alpha Pharm Seeding Series lead.

The women’s race also turned out to be thriller. Series leader, Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm) was isolated from two breakaway groups during a race which saw aggressive attacks going off the front from early on.

In the first break, Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Superycling), Robyn de Groot (Nashua Telecoms) and Marissa van der Merwe (MTN Energade) were away, but reeled in with 35km to go. Another break went clear before Hekpoort, again without Stenerhag in it.

On the slopes of Hekpoort, the break splintered and by the summit, Lizanne Naude (Toyota Supercycling) and Yolandi du Toit (Konica Minolta) were still clear, joined a short while later by Moolman and Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms).

This quartet kept the pace high to stay clear of the chasers for the remaining 16km and it was Moolman that grabbed the victory in a rapid 2:46:09. Du Toit finished second in the same time with Schoeman taking third two seconds later and in the process reclaiming the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series lead from Stenerhag (who finished 13th) ÔÇô by just five points.

ÔÇ£I knew that the first rider into that last 90 degree corner would be the most likely to take the win, so I made sure I got to it first,ÔÇØ explained Moolman. ÔÇ£Our Toyota Supercycling team was superb today with three in the top five and five in the top 10.ÔÇØ

Round 10 of the Alpha Pharm Seeding Series is the MTN OFM Classic in Bloemfontein on Sunday, 1 November.

Results
MEN

1 Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) 2hr23min18sec
2 Johann Rabie (Neotel) 2:23:19
3 Arran Brown (Medscheme) 2:23:36
4 Dennis van Niekerk (Konica Minolta) 2:23:37
5 Roger Beuchat (Neotel) same time
6 Jay Thomson (MTN Energade) same time
7 Dylan Girdlestone (Toyota Supercycling Academy) 2:23:41
8 Jacque Janse van Rensburg (DCM Chrome) same time
9 Ian McLeod (MTN Energade) same time
10 Hanco Kachelhoffer (Medscheme) same time

WOMEN
1 Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Supercycling) 2hr 46min 09sec
2 Yolandi du Toit (Konica Minolta) same time
3 Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms) 2:46:11
4 Lizanne Naude (Toyota Supercycling) 2:46:26
5 Lynette Burger (Toyota Supercycling) 2:47:51
6 Lise Olivier 2:47:52
7 Joanna van de Winkel (Toyota Supercycling) same time
8 Jade Roberts (Nashua Telecoms) 2:48:18
9 Charlotte van der Merwe same time
10 Isabel Moolman (Toyota Supercycling)

Alpha Pharm Seeding Series
Leading rankings after nine events:
MEN

1 Arran Brown (Medscheme) 215 points
2 James Ball (House of Paint) 167
3 Nolan Hoffman (Neotel) 165
3 Christoff van Heerden (MTN Energade) 165
5 Juan van Heerden (MTN Energade) 135
6 Malcolm Lange (Medscheme) 125
6 Johann Rabie (Neotel) 125
8 Jay Thomson (MTN Energade) 112
9 Dennis van Niekerk (Konica Minolta) 92
10 Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) 55

WOMEN
1 Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms) 320 points
2 Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm) 315
3 Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Supercycling) 255
4 Marissa van der Merwe (MTN Energade) 170
5 Jade Roberts (Nashua Telecoms) 122
6 Robyn de Groot (Nashua Telecoms) 95
7 Cherise Taylor (MTN Energade) 90
7 Yolandi du Toit (Konica Minolta) 90
9 Lynette Burger (Toyota Supercycling) 80
10 Lizanne Naude (Toyota Supercycling) 55


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