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SA duo ready to give it their all for SA on the road
- Updated: August 1, 2016
By Mark Etheridge
Daryl Impey and An-Li Kachelhoffer will be two of South Africa’s four cyclists in action this weekend at the Rio Olympics… and both are raring to ride!
Impey comes off the back of the gruelling Tour de France which ended 10 days ago but he hasn’t exactly been idle.
‘I rode the Clasica San Sebastian in Spain at the weekend,’ he told Road to Rio 2016 while relaxing at the Team South Africa headquarters at Edificio 7 in the Olympic village.
Impey finished in 69th spot in Spain, 3min 48sec down on winner Bauke Mollema.
‘It was my last big hit-out and to push the body a bit after the Tour de France,’ he says .
And the 32-year-old was also happy with his Tour de France result of 38th in the General Classication. Said the Orica-BikeExchange rider: ‘I’d like to think I finished on a good note and was getting stronger. Far better to be going up than down.’
On any improvements he’s noticed at the Tour de France ‘I think my climbing has definitely improved.’
In the saddle on his first day here in Rio de Janeiro, Impey rode a large portion of the 256-kilometre men’s route which they’ll race on Saturday
‘It’s a tough course with some some nasty climbs in it and a tricky cobbled section. The climbs come a bit too far before the end to say someone can win the race on those hills but you could certainly lose it.
‘The last climb is around eight kilometres and averages out at about a 6% gradient.
‘The cobbles are for roughly three kilometres and are also going to take the sting out of the legs, and being a one-day race it’s going to be a whole lot more intense.’
At the last Olympics Impey was South Africa’s lone representative but now he has company, and talented company in the form of Louis Meintjes who was eighth in the Tour de France.
‘Ideally if we can get one of us up the the road in the early stages, and preferably me, things could work out if Louis gets across and then we have the numbers.
South Africa are certainly going to be up against it, only having qualified two slots compared to some nations like Italy and Colombia who have a full complement of five.
‘We’ll definitely have to be aggressive and I think a breakaway group could well produce a winner on this sort of course and I have to say it’s a course that suits Louis more than me.’
As for Kachelhoffer, the George-based rider is also looking forward to her first Olympics where she’ll team up with 2012 Olympian Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.
She’ll celebrate her 29th birthday during these Olympics and rides for the Lotto Soudal team. She’s also the current national road race champion.
Like Impey she hit the road on Monday to familiarise herself with what she’ll be up against this weekend.
‘I’m fine with it.. there are climbs, but not a pure, long climb,’ she says. She classifies herself as an all-rounder. I can do a bit of everything, we seem to breed all-rounders in South Africa,’ she smiled.
Moving on to the chances of a South African medal she lights up. ‘I think we really stand a fantastic chance with Ashley. She is a very definite contender.
‘My job is to be the best domestique I can and to save her as much as possible.’
One thing’s for sure, she’s not alone in her optimism.
‘I rode with a few of the Norwegian guys and girls today and they all consider her as a favourite for the road race.’
As for Moolman-Pasio she’ll be looking to build on her bronze medal success at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games two years ago and one thing’s for sure, Kachelhoffer will have her back all the way.
The Cervélo Bigla rider arrived in Rio on Monday with an impressive streak of form behind her, notably a third place in the time trial of the Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen race in Germany, fittingly on Mandela Day on the 18th of last month.
Picture of Impey courtesy of Tim/Velonews