This weekend I have been in Gauteng for two races and it has been a successful few days. On Friday I took part in the open South African championship in Klerksdorp. It was an international race that saw riders from 7 different nations including South Africa. And for the first time in a race in SA I was not the only Swede. It was also a highly ranked field with the Swiss, Norwegian, Swedish and South African Champs all lined up, and a double world champ. The 4 teams were there in full swing with 5 to 11 riders each. All this set for a really hard race, also because it was a world class route that was very challenging.
The race started very hard and it was lots of attacks and hard pace going on. Unfortunately there were some crashes in the race that took out the previous South African champ Lynette and the pre-race favourite Ashleigh. Since I do not have a team I tried to stay calm and not go on all the attacks, at the same time as I was far to the front of the bunch the whole time to keep an eye on what was happening. I felt fine the whole time and had the race under control, I also was not affected by the altitude as much as usual. Finally it came down to a bunch sprint and one girl went early and I went on her wheel, but then I started my sprint too late and was passed by Cherise, who is now the new South African champ, and Anriette who finished in second position. I am still very happy with my third place in this good field of riders and as I usually say – at least I was on the podium!
I stayed on that altitude for one more day before I travelled to Johannesburg to take part in the Discheme Ride for sight on Sunday. The same field was present except for Team Nashua that had other obligations and one more girl had joined the start field, Grace Verbeke who is one of the top riders in the world and is currently here for training. The two races this weekend is the highest ranked races that has ever been in South Africa and it is nice that the standard is picking up that much!
The race started very slow, I think everyone was a bit tired from SA’s and it was also a bit messy cause the Vets caught us and then we passed them and they us again and so on, finally the girls decided to neutralise it a bit to let them go. Our race basically started after 60km when the hills started, then we went really hard and it was lots of attacks all the way to the finish. I got very tired since I had to go on everything myself and the altitude affected me more then on Friday, those few hundred meters makes a difference! After all it all came down to a bunch sprint, this finish is very dangerous and technical. We come down a hill and in to two 90 degrees corners within the last 500 meters. And when we finish there are lots of fun riders from the short route. I knew I had to be far to the front through the corners but it was so many fun riders in the way so I did not dear to do what I wanted, coming through the last corner I was probably 6th or 7th. When I saw the line with about 300 meters to go I got completely fear less and zig zaged between the girls and fun riders and all that was in my head was to get first over the line, and I managed to do just that!
It was my first national win this year and it was very nice to win again, it makes it even more special beating the teams and on high altitude that I usually suffer from.
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Now it is only two local training races before the Argus in less then three weeks time. I am looking forward to the race and will do everything I can to defend my title!
Podium at SA champs: me, Cherise Taylor and Anriette Schoeman
Karien and me before start of SA's
Carla was a bit close to me in the sprint at Ride for sight!!
Podium at Ride for sight: Jennifer Hohl - Bizhub (Swiss champ), me and Carla Swartz - MTN
Top 9 at Ride for sight
Last week iRide Africa had some Swedish guests, it is always nice to get to show my fellow Swedes this wonderful place:-)
Picnic lunch with iRide Africa: Jo, Pia-Maria, Jonna and Dan