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Asher leads medal rush for SA cyclists
- Updated: July 29, 2014
After some great good medal-winning performances in the Time Trial at the 2014 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Segovia, Spain, the South African para-cycling team produced another set of good results in the road race and hand-cycle team relay programme, which took place at the weekend.
On this occasion, South Africa’s star of the World Cup tour was Justine Asher, who was able to make it two gold medals from two races. As in the Time Trial, she was able to very comfortably beat her competition in the road race.
Putting the disappointment of not securing a medal in the Time Trial, Paralympian Ernst van Dyk clinched silver in his road race. Van Dyk, who was very pleased with his medal achievement, explained after the race that the extremely hot weather in Spain made it difficult for the South African team to acclimatise quickly enough from the mid-winter conditions experienced back home.
Aggravating this, was the suite of tactics employed by three riders from the Netherlands, who co-operated by rotating roles in regularly breaking away from the field, putting pressure on those chasing to pull them back each time. Towards the end of the race, Van Dyk was able to chase down a four-rider breakaway, leaving behind (for a while, at least) the reigning World Champion, Allessandro Zanardi.
The final 1km climb towards the finish, at an 8% gradient on cobbles, allowed Zanardi to chase one last time and clinch gold ahead of Van Dyk.
Tricyclist Madre Carinus made it two-from-two by winning a second bronze medal in the road race to match her performance in the Time Trial. She finished comfortably ahead of a number of other riders who had held out hopes for podium finishes.
Her tricycling teammate, Goldy Fuchs, was leading the pack at the end of the first lap of his road race, but was dropped by a breakaway group at one of the corners. His attempt to catch this group was thwarted by cleat problems.
Stuart McCreadie, who won the bronze medal in the Time Trial, was not able to repeat this performance in the road race. Caught unawares, he was dropped by the lead group on the same 8% cobbled gradient that assisted Zanardi to claim gold in his race. McCreadie acknowledged that this was not his best performance, but accepted that was he able to learn useful lessons that will prepare him for the road race in the forthcoming World Championships.
Vicky Scheepers was extremely unfortunate to experience a puncture during her race, which put her firmly out of contention of posting a competitive performance. Her experience in Spain in both the Time Trial and road race will no doubt stand her in good stead as she develops her racing capabilities going forward.
Hand-cyclists Van Dyk and McCreadie teamed up with another H3 woman rider, Karen Darke, to enter as an independent team for the hand-cycle relay event. Their fifth place finish relative to the international and other independent teams they competed against was impressive, reflecting their best result in this event to date.