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Lill wins in Paarl

South African champion Darren Lill of Team DCM took the final day’s racing of the Le Coq Sportif Tour de Boland by the horns on Friday, throwing down the gauntlet on the slopes of the Paarl Rock to outclass overnight race leader Johann Rabie (Bonitas) and Christoph Sauser (Songo), former World Mountain bike champion.

The route, up the steep slopes, on dirt roads on the Jan Phillips Mountain Drive, and the sharp turns in the main section of Paarl, caused immediate trouble to all but the strongest and most agile of mountain climbers.

Lill put the hammer down from the very first ascent, and, between him and Sauser, attempted to drive the peleton to pieces, as soon as was humanly possible.

With each lap, the number of riders who were able to survive the continuous onslaughts became less, until, on the third lap, of the 12km circuit, the remainders were whittled down to some 10 or so.

Several attempts were made by riders such as Johan Van Zyl (CSAAcademy), and Daryl Impey (MTN) to advance themselves into a cushioned lead prior to the murderous ascent.

Impey managed to create a seemingly unassailable gap on the penultimate lap, but was roped in rather vigorously by the lead few, when Lill sailed away to secure the King of the Mountain classification.

Lill spent the rest of the last two laps in a solo effort to put some distance into the likes of Sauser, the fast-losing overall leader Rabie, Van NIekerk, the King of the Mountain overnight, and a flailing Christoph van Heerden, the leader on points overnight.
In the women’s category, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio won the final stage and with it, secured the overall title, the Queen of the Mountains and Points Competition titles.

The Nashua Toyota team rider won the sprint on the short final circuitl. Second was her teammate, Joanna van de Winkel with An-Li Pretorius (MTN Qhubeka) in third.

Racing in Category 2, with the Veteran and Junior men, the women were forced into a reactionary mode as two Veterans and two Juniors broke clear in the second half of the race in a last-ditch effort to reshuffle the General Classification. The race format followed 20 laps of a tight 3km circuit.

ÔÇ£It was quite a fast, intense stage. I was more interested in avoiding any problems than trying to finish high up on the stage. I wasn’t over cautious, but I was aware of the other women and just wanted to ensure I knew where they were at all times,ÔÇØ explained a delighted Moolman Pasio afterwards.

ÔÇ£I was well positioned when we started the sprint and it feels good to win the final stage and the overall title. It really was a tough tour and very important for the improvement of South African women’s racing as there are so few stage races that cater for women in this country.ÔÇØ

Runner-up overall was Van de Winkel, who showed that the tougher the race, the brighter she shines. Third place was decided on Friday’s final stage when Pretorius knocked her MTN Qhubeka teammate, Lylanie Lauwrens off the podium.

Moolman Pasio heads to Europe next week where she will begin racing for the Lotto team in Belgium as part of the Cycle Lab Supercycling Club’s rider exchange programme. Lotto is one of the top women’s teams in the world and this will be Moolman Pasio’s second season with the team.

ÔÇ£This race has certainly helped me achieve good form,ÔÇØ said Moolman Pasio. Four days of hard racing in a row like that can’t be duplicated with regular training. I’m excited about racing in Europe where almost every race is as tough as this one has been.ÔÇØ

Final Results:

General – Elite
1 Darren Lill DCM 12hr 05min 15sec, 2 Johann Rabie Bonnitas 12:06:08, 3 Christoff van Heerden MTN 12:06:19, 4 Christoph Sauser SON 12:06:36, 5 Jan Oelerich TTR 12:07:08

Women
1 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Nashua Toyota) 12hr 19min 44sec, 2 Joanna van de Winkel (Nashua Toyota) @ 4min 41sec, 3 An-Li Pretorius (MTN Qhubeka) @ 5min 29sec, 4 Lylani Lauwrens (MTN Qhubeka) @ 5min 31sec, 5 Lise Olivier (MTN Qhubeka) @ 20min 02sec


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