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SA cyclists ride their way to three gold medals at continental champs
- Updated: February 10, 2015
South African teams claimed all but one of the gold medals on offer as the Confederation of African Cycling (CAC) Road Championships got underway in sweltering conditions in Wartburg , KwaZulu-Natal on Monday.
The day started with the Junior Women and the title was won by the South African team of four although they were the only team in the event. The Junior Men’s race was also dominated by the hosts as they powered to a victory over the Morroccan and Namibian teams.
The elite events were closely contested with the host nation claiming the gold in the women’s race and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio was happy with the performance considering none of the ladies had ridden together in a team time trial before Monday.
‘We just wanted to go out there and have fun,’ the recently crowned national Time Trial Champion said. ‘It was a really nice course out there but it was quite tiring and we have been travelling a lot recently with the recent SA Champs in Nelspruit but we are really happy to win today.’
Moolman Pasio was happy with the team’s efforts and was impressed with the course that was laid out by the organisers but with some tough conditions to deal with she was happy with the how she was able to adjust last week.
‘Last week was really hot up in Nelspruit so we were able to adjust there so the heat wasn’t too much of an issue on the undulating course.
‘Everything was really well organised today and it was great to get out there and get a win,’ the Bigla Pro Team star said.
It was the Eritrean elite men’s team that produced the strongest ride in their category to beat the more fancied South African team of four to the title and MTN-Qhubeka’s Merhawi Kudus was elated with his team’s effort in the hot conditions.
‘We have had to travel from Europe where it has been really cold so it was going to be hard for us today but winning a continental championship title is great and I really can’t believe that we managed to win today,’ an elated Kudus mentioned.
The Eritreans had a slight scare on the start line and Kudus was worried that it could affect their ride however once they were out on the course all of the issues subsided and they were able to produce a stellar ride that put them on the top step of the podium.
‘One of our riders got a puncture on the start line which I thought might make the race a lot more difficult and made us a bit more nervous but we managed to sort it out and get through the course well and I am still so surprised that we managed to win here today!’ he concluded.
The South African team was slightly aggrieved that they were unable to win the gold medal and Louis Meintjes was quick to point out that they are professional riders so travel is no excuse for not winning.
‘These guys also had a long way to travel and after last week we were quite tired but that is what we get paid to do!
‘We are obviously disappointed with the result however we have no excuse for what happened although we put in our best effort and congratulations to the guys from Eritrea.
‘Let’s hope that the rest of the week goes better and we can win some medals for South Africa,’ a positive Meintjes said.
Tuesday’s schedule at the African Continental Road Championships will commence with the individual time trials for Junior Men and Women starting at 9.30am.
Picture of the SA elite women’s side in action courtesy of www.craigdutton.com
Day One results
Team Time Trial
1 Eritrea (Daniel Teklehaimanot/Natnael Berhane/Merhawi Kudus/Mekseb Debesay) 1hr 03min 39sec
2 South Africa (Louis Meintjies/Jay Thomson/Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg/Nicholas Dlamini) 1:03.42
3 Ethiopia (Tsgabu Grmay/Getachew Atsbha/Temesgen Buru/Kbrom Gidey) 1:04.51
1 South Africa (Ashleigh Pasio/Lise Olivier/Heidi Dalton/Anli Kachelhoffer) 1:17.48 2 Namibia (Michelle Vorster/[Irene Steyn/Vera Adrian) 1:21.53
3 Eritrea (Wahazit Kidane/Mosana Debesay/Tsehainesh Fitsum/Yohana Dawit) 1:23.33
1 South Africa (Jarrod Hattingh/Enno Swanepoel/Gregory de Vink/John Vlok) 34.19
2 Morocco (El Mehdi Chokri/Mohcine El Kouraji/El Houcaine Saebbahi/Abdelilah Radif) 34.39
3 Namibia (Tristen de Lange/Brandon Plaatjies/Herbert Peters) 36.49
1 South Africa (Amy Venter/Frances du Toit/Mandie Swart/Lynette Benson) 45.01