Van Winkel gets her first win | SASCOC - SASCOC

Van Winkel gets her first win

Joanna van der Winkel, a 27-year-old qualified electrical engineer, grabbed the first victory of her short cycling career when she won the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge Elite women’s title in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Riding as a new member of the Toyota Supercycling professional team, Van der Winkel, showed that a career as a full-time bicycle racer is by no means a pipedream when she attacked on the final climb to capture the women’s overall title in 2hr 47min 07sec.

ÔÇ£It’s really nice to win such a big race for my first victory,ÔÇØ said an elated Van der Winkel, who only started cycling seriously last year and began racing in the Elite women’s category in 2009.

A strong climber, Van der Winkel, attacked on a hill 14km into the race and got clear of the large women’s peloton, which included all of the country’s top riders. The other two big teams in the race, MTN Energade and Nashua Telecoms each sent a rider to chase down Van der Winkel, to neutralise the advantage her Toyota Supercycling team had with her up the road alone.

An-Li Pretorius (Nashua Telecoms) and Lylanie Lauwrens (MTN Energade) joined Van der Winkel and the trio set about contesting the two Queen of the Mountains and two Sprint points on the route. Van der Winkel grabbed the sprint primes and it soon became evident that she was on peak form and a threat to her rival teams.

Back in the peloton, MTN Energade and Nashua Telecoms realised that their riders in the break were weakening and after the halfway mark, began in earnest to chase the breakaway group. But while they got close, they weren’t able to reel them in, leaving Van der Winkel to weaken her breakaway companions with attacks on every climb in the final kilometres.

ÔÇ£I dropped them each time, but because I’m so light and not so powerful on the flats and downhills, they caught me again. I must have tired them out through because on the final climb I put in a huge last effort and managed to stay clear to the finish. It hurt, but it was worth it!ÔÇØ

Pretorius finished second and Lourens completed the podium places in third. Van der Winkel said afterwards that her lack of experience was neutralised by the advice and support from the Toyota Supercycling team.

ÔÇ£The team has been great ÔÇô the riders and the managers. And of course my coach, Kim Rose-Gershow, who started coaching me on a power-based system this year. Without all that I’d not have been able to win today. It confirms that road cycling is not an individual sport, although today, I’m one very happy individual!ÔÇØ

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