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- Team SA head off to Angola on Region 5 Games mission
Double gold for Du Preez as SA win three World Cup medals
- Updated: June 18, 2015
Putting the icing on top of what has been a great three-week European tour, South Africa’s Pieter du Preez and Craig Ridgard claimed gold and bronze medals respectively in their road races at the this week’s 2015 UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland.
This makes it a full house in terms of medals won by each of the riders comprising the national team when you add a gold medal for Du Preez and a silver medal for Ernst van Dyk’s in the time trial.
Having just smashed the world record in one of his racing wheelchair events, road world champion Du Preez nailed the flat yet technical time trial circuit. He established a lead early in the race, claiming the gold medal by more than two minutes ahead of his closest rival. The victory gave Du Preez all the confidence he needed for the road race on a tough course, where he simply blew his competition away and claimed his second gold medal of the weekend.
Determined to improve on his performance from the Italian World Cup, Ernst van Dyk pulled out all the stops from the get-go, setting his sights on a podium finish in the time trial. His main rival was American Oscar Sanchez, who could not have been given a circuit more suited to his competitive strengths. Both the SA team management and the US support team had Van Dyk and Sanchez neck-in-neck in terms of split times at various points around the circuit. Ultimately it was just 0.43 seconds that separated Van Dyk’s silver medal achievement from Sanchez’s gold.
In the road race, world champion Van Dyk literally and figuratively had a mountain to climb. His main competition was the trio of Dutch riders who collaborated to rotate the attack on the steepest sections of the route, forcing Van Dyk to follow each time.
Struggling to maintain good traction on the front drive wheel of his handcycle, under wet conditions, he ultimately lost contact with the lead group and had to settle for a fourth place finish. Set beside his silver medal win in the time trial the previous day, and with the obvious the improvement in his competition results relative to last week’s Italian World Cup, Van Dyk was not unhappy with his World Cup performance overall. Employing every best-practice technique that he is aiming to master, Craig Ridgard rode a near perfect time trial, finishing in fifth place, only six seconds slower than the bronze medallist. He was extremely satisfied with his performance, in particular its contribution to a trajectory of continuous improvement.
The road race circuit was highly suited to Ridgard’s strengths, which included his good climbing skills. Like his teammate Du Preez, Ridgard adopted a thoroughly analytical approach to preparing and executing his road race plan. Anticipating the break-away tactics of the Peruvian and Spanish riders who claimed the gold and silver medals at the previous week’s Italian World Cup, he planned to take the bronze medal by attacking on the climbing sections of the route and by positioning himself perfectly for a sprint finish in the final 100m of the race. The excitement of the sprint was tangible amongst the crowd at the finish line and Ridgard was clearly thrilled by his medal ride, which will be the first of many to come.
The investment in independent rider Simon Makgobela, which was made possible by generous funding from the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa, paid huge dividends in terms of fast-tracking the development and competitive ability of this talented rider. Beating one seasoned rider in the road race, and proving his ability to race under pressure and difficult circuit conditions, Makgobela proved that he has what it takes to become a world champion.
Competing in only his second international time trial, Makgobela performed exceptionally well. His ninth place finish, which was only around three minutes slower than the performances of a number of his world and Paralympic Champion competitors, was outstanding.
It was rewarding to note the respect that was afforded him by the international community of riders with whom he has engaged over the past few weeks – with much of this having translated into friendships that are likely to endure. Makgobela will be returning to the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport to complete the high performance programme that has been developed for him. He next competes internationally in the UCI Para-cycling Road World Cup in Pietermaritzburg, which is scheduled for 11-13 September this year.
Picture of Du Preez courtesy of Ilse du Preez
Summary of Result from World Cup No.2 – Yverdon-les-Bains (SUI)
1 Israel Hilario Rimas (PER) 01:19:43
2 Maurice Eckhard Tio (ESP) 01:20:06
3 Craig Ridgard (SA) 01:20:43
1 Pieter Du Preez (SA) 01:00:33
2 Teppo Polvi (FIN) 01:01:21
3 Rafal Mikoloajczyk (POL) 01:08:33
1 Jetze Plat (NED) 01:55:03
2 Johan Reekers (NED) 01:55:39
3 Tim De Vries (NED) 01:56:26
4 Ernst van Dyk (SA) 02:00:41
7 Simon Makgobela (SA)
1 Colin Lynch (IRL) 00:18:41.63
2 Arslan Gilmutdinov (RUS) 00:19:45.35
3 Israel Hilario Rimas (PER) 00:19:55.62
5 Craig Ridgard (SA) 00:20:01.66
1 Pieter Du Preez (SA) 00:30:24.93
2 Patrik Jahoda (CZE) 00:32:38.73
3 Teppo Polvi (FIN) 00:32:42.05
1 Oscar Sanchez (USA) 00:20:05.17
2 Ernst Van Dyk (SA) 00:20:05.
3 Tim De Vries (NED) 00:20:09.05.6
9 Simon Makgobela (SA) 00:23:37.47