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Two golds and a bronze for SA at UCI para-cycling Worlds

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By Mark Etheridge

South Africa’s medal campaign at the UCI para-cycling World Road Championships in Nottwill, Switzerland, exploded into action on Friday’s second day.
Two gold and a bronze medal will mean some extra baggage for the team when the championships ends on Sunday.
First medal went to Pieter du Preez in the H1 time trial (Thursday and Friday were set aside for TT action) and then there was another gold for Justine Asher in the H2 category while the team’s Paralympic ‘old timer’ Ernst van Dyk took a hard-fought bronze in the H5 time trial.
Distances involved were 14 kilometres for the gold medallists and 15.5km for Van Dyk.
Du Preez clocked 41min 49.74sec to comfortably beat Kiwi Timothy Williams (44:35.82).
He told Road to Rio 2016: ‘I had a good race on tough course and honoured to be wearing the rainbow jersey in the ITT. After hearing I had a 40sec lead in first lap I decided to take the second lap a bit less riskier on the tight corners and push on the hills.
‘I dnded with a winning margin of over 2min so was very happy. It’s always great to sing the national anthem on the podium! Thanks for great support from the team out here and everyone at home! Has to be said that the great performances byeTeam MTN Qhubeka in the Tour de France and Ashleigh Moolman in the Tour de Rosa inspired us big time today!
‘It’s road race on Sunday so let’s hope we can bring home some more proudly South African medals!’
As for Asher she was another proud athlete after clocking 37min 35.51 for a huge 16min victory margin. ‘I’m very pleased to have won my time trial and very proud to be wearing the world championships jersey and see the SA flag flying high.
‘The weather was good and the course challenging in its climb, but otherwise easy to navigate… my only concern was braking at the end of the steep downhill which corners very sharply at the end.
‘I look forward to Sunday’s road race which is the same circuit just five times, totalling 35km. The 14km time trial was twice. The world champs has been a fantastic experience so far and very well hosted and organised by the Swiss.’
As for Van Dyk he was happy after his time of 29:21.46 behind Alex Zanardi (28:29.12) and Oscar Sanchez (29:08.81)
‘Very pleased with my results. Given the course profile I did not think I had a real shot at the podium and also going off the results this season I had the two Dutch (Platz and De Vries) as favorites for a podium over myself and Oz.
However we worked very hard the past five weeks and Elrick Kulsen [coach] pushed me very hard every day, chasing me up and down Bainskloof pass with his whip on the scooter.
‘In the gym we did some very specific work as we had to focus basically on changing my body from a sprinter’s to a climbers. All this came together in the TT and I rode a very good race. The team worked very professionally and I got several splits around the course the keep me in contention all the way.
‘I really turned myself inside out on the final climb which was around 3.5km long and by the final time check I was in a good second position only 16 seconds behind Zanardi and 15 seconds ahead of Sanchez. There was however still a very fast technical decent to come and I knew  would potentially lose some time to the race car skills of Zanardi and the fearlessness of Sanchez.
‘Sanchez hit an incredible 88km/h speed on the decent with Zanardi hitting 77 and myself only hitting 70km/h. with that move Sanchez took back the time I took from him on the climbs and he gained another 12 seconds on me pushing me back into bronze. Zanardi also gained a good chunk of time on me but not as much as Sanchez did.
‘So I’m happy with the performance as the Dutch duo came in more than 20 seconds behind me.’
Moving on to the road race though and Van Dyk thinks it will be a whole new ballgame.
‘I feel a lot more confident now about it than I did yesterday. Four laps on this course on a hot day at one in the afternoon is going to be brutal
‘I plan to race a very strategic race and to play to my strengths and make the best of the opportunities I get. But most importantly to be safe and manage the risks on the decent – Rio is the main focus and a bad crash at over 70km/h can make a massive hash of our plans.’

Picture of Asher receiving her gold medal, courtesy of Brent Axtell


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