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Many age groups under spotlight at SA nationals in KZN
- Updated: February 14, 2016
The Elite Women may have stolen the show on Saturday’s third day of the 2016 SA National Road, Time Trial and Para-cycling Championships in Westville, KwaZulu-Natal, but there were a host of other age categories that competed for national championship status in a number of race distances along the 18 kilometre circuit.
From the Men and Women Masters’ categories catering for riders over the age of 30-years-old to the sizzling U16 Boys and Girls, the tandems and the very young age groups of U10-U14, racing action continued throughout the day. The U10-U14 categories were not part of the South African Championship but the riders were awarded special trophies and jerseys.
Free State cyclist Ben Britz (pictured above, 16) claimed the Under-16 national title in a very tight race over the 85-kilometre distance. The peloton stayed together for most of the race until the penultimate lap when the group whittled down to a dozen riders.
Britz, who launched a final attack within the last three kilometres of the race, managed to stay clear of his chasers, taking the victory in 2hr 28min 06sec, with Jeandre Gautier (16) finishing second (2:28:09) and Rickardo Broxham (16), third (2:28:12).
‘It was a hard race,’ said Britz. ‘I was worried there would be a bunch sprint but towards the end, the bunch split. On the last hill I was lucky to break away and make a go for the finish. I was stressing that I might get caught but am happy to take the win.’
The U16 Girls race also presented its challenges as they took to the road in the heat of the day, which made it difficult and uncomfortable for them. Race winner Tiffany Keep (1:34:18) enjoyed the chance to play out some race tactics with the U14 Boys Travis Stedman and Callum Osborne, launching several attacks from the end of lap one until the end of the three-lap race.
‘The experience of racing at the 2016 SA Champs was a great one,’ said Keep (16). ‘Each time we attacked, the strong BestMed riders Zelda Britz and Ashleigh Parsons (16) would close us down. On the last lap I got a five-metre gap and powered the last descent in my big ring as much as I could and got the win. It was a very close finish but I’m very happy with the tactics involved and happy to win in amongst strong competition.’
It was Parsons who claimed second place in 01:34:43 with Thana Groenewald (16) finishing third (1:38:11).
Young Stedman (14) won his race in a tight bunch sprint, edging out Benjamin Brown (14) and Callum Osborne (13) into second and third places respectively. The winning time was 1:33:00.
‘It was a good race out there today,’ said Stedman. ‘We did take some strain from the sun though. We had quite a good breakaway but because of the heat we began to tire quite a bit. But all in all it was a very good race.’
On the other end of the scale, the Masters’ Men and Women put on some fine displays of cycling power in their respective races. In the Men’s 45-49 race, Andrew Westaway (48) also calculated his attack on the last uphill before the finish, securing the victory in 3:08:29, just ahead of second placed Samuel de Swardt (48) and Bryan Cusack (49) both 3:08:34.
‘It was a nice race and I liked the hills,” said Westaway. ‘It was on the last hill where I managed to break away from the bunch and was about 100m ahead to take the win.’ Jill Edwardes (60) won her 60-64 race, which covered a 68-kilometre distance, in 2:16:53. The first lap was quite slow with all the women’s age groups keeping together until the start of the second lap when the pace increased and the younger packs broke away, splitting the pack.
‘I drifted off a little bit off the back and was alone and waited for the next lady to come along,’ said Edwardes. ‘We tried to work together and then I got away, and on the final lap I took the win. It’s awesome!’
Wendy Bloom (62) claimed the silver medal in 2:22:17, with Ilna Lemmer (61) claiming a bronze medal in 2:24:32.
Sixty-eight-year-old Sya Giles, who won the Women’s 65-70+ 51km race, appealed to more older women to join them and cycle. ‘There’s much more fun when there’s a group of cyclists,’ she said. ‘There are a lot of women racing up until the age of about 50. They seem to enjoy races like the “Argus” and Amashova but not the regional or National Championships.’
Second placed Jan Phelan (67) said: ’It was such an advantage to race at 7am this morning and miss the heat,’ she said.
Desray Sebregts (38) successfully defended her Championship Title when she won her 102-kilometre 35-39 race. ‘I’m over the moon! I knew the route from 2014, and knew that if I could get away on the hills, then we could split the group.
‘One of the riders got away early but we thought she was in a different age group to us. When we realised we were behind by three minutes, it was cat and mouse to try and chase her and I managed to close the gap.
‘I was going to launch my attack on the second last lap but the headwind was hectic, so I went on the last lap and it paid off. The stripes are mine,’ she beamed.
Machelle Bremer finished in second place in 3:06:10 with Nicolene Naude (37), third in 3:06:10. Racing continued on Sunday in Westville with the Elite, U23 and Junior Men, Junior Women and the Masters’ Men 30-34 and 35-39.
Picture of Britz courtesy of Darren Goddard