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Redecker up for another tough race… at high altitude

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By Mark Etheridge

National mountain-bike champion Cherie Redecker goes into this weekend’s African Continental Championships with renewed conviction… and on more than one front!
That’s because she recently got married to fellow mountain biker Heiko, moved back to her roots in Pietermaritzburg from Stellenbosch, and more recently posted her first victory of this year’s Stihl SA XCO Cup Series.
The weekend’s win in Wolwespruit, Pretoria was enough to move her to the top of the rankings ahead of the weekend’s Lesotho showdown.
Redecker (née Vale) told Road to Rio 2016: ‘After an inspirational weekend at the SASCOC global camp I was fired up to race.
‘The track at Wolwespruit was long with 180 metres of climbing. Despite the toughness of the climbs I felt confident going into the race and focused on one lap at a time.
‘A slow start worked out to be beneficial as I was able to find my own rhythm and keep a constant pace. Was great to take the win. I just need to keep the momentum for African Champs.’
Redecker now has a fifth place from the first Cup race in Mankele where she had some health issues, a runners-up spot from Helderberg and now this latest win.
‘Even though it sucks being sick one has to take the lows with the highs,’ was her take on her opening to the season.
Looking ahead to African Champs and apart from the difficulties of adapting to the 3000m high altitude, Redecker says the course shouldn’t hold too many surprises. ‘I’ve already checked out the course and it’s similar to an SA XCO Cup in 2014 although they’ve added a loop which increases the amount of climbing. A straightforward course but the altitude makes it harder.’
The men’s race at Wolwespruit saw James Reid take the win after breaking away early to win from Brendon Davids.
The Cyclingsa.com website reports that Reid said the course was similar to marathon racing in many sections, which seemed to suit the Team Spur rider. ‘I really enjoyed it – it’s not super punchy and with a sustained climb in the middle and the sustained longer downhill, it does suit the riders who need slightly longer to recover and who are less punchy.’
The course, Reid felt, played to his and Davids’ strengths, whereas Philip Buys (third – Scott Factory Racing powered by LCB) Alan Hatherly (fourth – Kargo Pro MTB Team) both dominate in the more ‘punchier’ courses.
Reid mentioned that before the second round at Helderberg Farms, which was considered a ‘home race’ for him, he’d done a fairly extensive amount of work beforehand and felt over done going in. ‘Here, I took the intensity and the race simulation away from the Cape Epic and put it into this weekend and next weekend (African Continental Championships), which are quite important for Olympic qualification,’ he added.
The keen participation of younger riders was also of interest to Reid. ‘It’s cool to see the cross-correlation between cross-country and Spur, in particular the Spur School Series. I’ve been lucky to be involved and have been able to keep a close eye on the high school league, and it’s been incredible to witness that talent that we have at the younger levels,’ he said.
‘Hats off to Cycling SA, Stihl and everyone involved in putting together this series – its really come a long way, and here its UCI Category 1 where we are earning valuable UCI points for our country and individual ranking, which is fantastic,’ Reid said.
Reid (who took the title in Lesotho in 2014) mentioned that the course is one that would suit him, but that Davids (who won in 2013) had been training up there already. ‘It’s never predictable and with the high altitude there, it’s a whole new ball game. It’s going to be an interesting and exciting race,’ he said.

Picture of Redecker in action at the weekend courtesy of Alcock’s Quick Snaps

Elite results from Wolwespruit

Pro-Elite Men (six laps)
1 James Reid 1hr 37min 01sec
2 Brendon Davids 1:37:13
3 Philip Buys 1:38:57
4 Alan Hatherly 1:40:39
5 Stuart Marais 1:44:03
6 Marc Fourie 1:45:57
7 Nathan Byukusenge 1:46:23
8 Jan Withaar 1:46:29
9 Tristan De Lange 1:47:04
10 Yannick Lincoln 1:48:03

Pro-Elite Women (5 laps)
1 Cherie Redecker1:37:47
2 Mariske Strauss 1:41:00
3 Candice Neethling 1:42:19
4 Frances Du Toit 1:44:45
5 Amy Mcdougall 1:45:32
6 Michelle Vorster 1:48:42
7 Genevieve Van Coller 1:50:01
8 Hayley Smith 1:51:22
9 Mandy De Beer 1:52:43
10 Skye Davidson 1:59:54


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