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Payback time for Potgieter

Every cyclist who is prepared to put in long hours of training will eventually have his moment of glory on the winner’s podium and Bradley Potgieter (MTN-Energade), who won the Carousel Classic in Johannesburg on Monday can vouch for that.

This year certainly did not start out well for the young rider.  On 5 February, when he was on his way to join his team-mates for a training session, he was involved in a motor car accident. He broke his wrist and foot in the accident, and also fractured an ankle.  This meant that he could not resume his training before the end of March.

Listening to Potgieter when he talks about his career as a pro-cyclist, it becomes clear that he firmly believes that there is no letter ‘I’ in the word ‘team’. When he gets onto his bike to race, his main motivation is to do whatever it takes to ensure a victory for his team.

To sum up, Potgieter is the one rider who is prepared to sacrifice himself time and again for the benefit of his team.┬áTherefore, it is not surprising that the Carousel Classic was Potgieter’s first victory of the season. ÔÇ£I have to admit that I did enjoy winning the Carousel Classic, especially because I am not often in a position to win a race. But, come the next race, it will be business as usual for me. I will be there to help the sprinters or climbers in my team. However, if the opportunity should arise, I certainly would go for a victory again.ÔÇØ

According to Potgieter, Monday’s race developed into a titanic battle between the riders of MTN-Energade and Medscheme.

ÔÇ£The windy conditions certainly made the racing extra hard. The Medscheme riders’ intention was to have the rest of us riding in the gutter. They were quite successful in their effort, because after about 40 kilometers of racing there were only about 20 riders left to battle it out for overall victory.

ÔÇ£The deciding moment occurred when Hanco Kachelhoffer (Medscheme) attacked with 10 kilometers to go. I managed to stay with him and then Pieter Seyffert also joined us. We stayed in front until the end when I outsprinted Hanco to achieve victory.ÔÇØ

Potgieter stopped the clock on 3:22:12 for the 152km men’s event.

Meanwhile in the women’s race, contested over 110km, Team bizhub’s Lise Olivier outsprinted MTN’s Casandra Slingerland to secure the first classic victory of her professional career.

Olivier, who studied in the United States on an athletics bursary before joining the bizhub outfit this season, gave her victory salute after three hours 17 minutes and 24 seconds of intense battle with Slingerland, who crossed the line two seconds later.

MTN team-mates An-Li Pretorius (3:18:34) and Douwene Cartwright (3:21:17) crossed the line on their own in third and fourth, with Team bizhub’s Yolandi du Toit (3:25:13) winning a small group sprint to place fifth.

ÔÇ£Casandra twice almost got away early on and I realised that she was the one to watch today,ÔÇØ said an elated Olivier, who showed signs of her increasing road racing stature when she won the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Magoebaskloof Cycle Challenge in mid-May before heading to the United States where she placed 17th in the Cascade Classic six-day tour in Oregon last month.

The early stages of Monday’s race was characterised by a flurry of attacks, one of which saw Olivier, national time-trial champion Slingerland, Pretorius and National Junior Tour winner Sarah Chemley briefly going clear.

Slingerland, who had shown her intentions early on, was the architect of the decisive breakaway move after about 30 kilometres.

ÔÇ£Casandra attacked from the right-hand side of the bunch and at that point I was on the left about nine riders back,ÔÇØ Olivier explained. ÔÇ£I somehow managed to get past and was able to ride up to her back wheel after a short chase.ÔÇØ

Olivier and Slingerland formed an alliance and worked superbly together for the next 25 kilometres, but the latter was ordered not to contribute anymore after team-mates Pretorius and Cartwright had freed themselves from the chasing pack and were closing in on them.

ÔÇ£With my team-mates in the main bunch, I had no option other than to continue working in the hope that our break would succeed,ÔÇØ said Olivier. ÔÇ£When it became clear that we weren’t going to get caught, Casandra attacked from behind and I could not respond.ÔÇØ

Slingerland quickly gained 50 seconds on her former breakaway companion and eventually stretched her lead to a minute.

ÔÇ£I just kept focusing and rode my own pace into the headwind and with about 15 kilometres to go I noticed that the gap to her team car was starting to narrow,ÔÇØ said Olivier, who eventually bridged the gap five from the end.

ÔÇ£Although it was a hard chase, I was feeling reasonably fresh at that point. I felt I had a good chance if I went for a long sprint and fortunately it worked out.

ÔÇ£It’s obviously exciting to win a race of this magnitude. It shows that I’ve come out of the tour extremely well and that I’m in good shape for next week’s race,ÔÇØ said the 27-year-old, referring to the 230-kilometre Trans Baviaans mountain bike event just outside Port Elizabeth.


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