Team Demacon’s Heidi Dalton rode away to take both the national Elite as well as the U23 Women’s titles in Wellington at the weekend after claiming the U23 Time Trial win on Thursday.
Cooler, but still very warm Western Cape temperatures greeted the Elite, U23 and Junior Women at the start of their road races for the SA National Road Championships.
The 127.8 kilometre course, which consisted of 10 laps around the Lady Loch circuit through farmlands and vineyards, offered something new on each lap.
The first break attempt came from Sanet Coetsee, 19km into the race, but she was quickly swallowed by the bunch. Michelle Benson then made an attack at 28km in, but was also soon caught.
The real fighting began 49km into the race, when Demacon’s Elmarie de Wet maintained her breakaway (often over two minutes ahead) for close to 40km.
The next 15km displayed aggressive riding and attacks from Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and An-Li Kachelhoffer, and soon there was a lead bunch of eight riders, which included Dalton, Yzette Oelofse, Juanita Venter, Chane Jonker and Samantha Sanders.
More attacks by Moolman-Pasio and Kachelhoffer followed, but shortly thereafter both riders were back in the bunch.
At the start of the last lap, Dalton broke off the leading group to ride solo and open up a gap. Her time gaps began to grow from 37 seconds to 47 seconds, and before long, she was close to two minutes ahead. She rode to victory over the line in a time of 3hr 43min 37.572sec.
About her victory, Dalton said: ‘Today was absolutely awesome, I mean, I’m still under 23, so the main goal was to get the Under 23 jersey, but to get both of them is just absolutely incredible. I’m really, really over the moon. I gave it everything I had and I’m really enjoying this moment.’
Dalton spoke of teammate Elmarie de Wet (pictured right) who worked hard for the team as well.
‘She went up the road for a couple of laps and we sat and relaxed little bit while she gave it her all’ said Dalton.
‘My other teammate Carla (Oberholzer) covered a lot of moves out there as well. My team manager, Dave, has been absolutely incredible and been with me forever, so it was really just a team effort today and I’m super chuffed to be the SA champ,’ she added.
Second position in the Elite Women’s race went to An-Li Kachelhoffer (Bestmed ASG), with Time Trial champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo Bigla) crossing the line in third.
Michelle Benson won the silver medal in the U23 women’s road race. ‘Today was hot, and very hard,’ she said. Benson added that after she saw Dalton had a chance of the win, she tried her best to stick as hard as she could in order to get the second spot on the podium.
In the U19 Women’s race, Ashley Parsons, who had arrived back from a training camp in Egypt only one day before her race, claimed the gold medal, with Tiffany Keep coming in behind in second place, and Elne Owen in third.
When asked how she was able to pull it all off, Parsons (pictured in her race here) said: ‘I had yesterday afternoon to gather my things. I think for me it was important to keep myself together mentally – especially knowing that I had to fly for 12 hours and then race the next day.’
Parsons spoke about her recent participation in the World Cycling Centre training camp said: ‘Personally I think it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. It was a big jump for me to miss school, but I gained a lot of experience and the training was very hard. It obviously helped a lot because here we are today.’
Second-placed Keep, who grabbed Time Trial gold, said she was very nervous coming into the race. ‘Some of the girls in the race today didn’t race in the time trial, so I didn’t know where they were in terms of form. It started off at a great pace and there were a few attempts at breakaways and attacks. Nobody managed to get away because of the headwind.
‘I tried so hard to pull away when it came to two kilometres to go, but we all were in sprint mode by then. I ended up coming next to Ashley Parsons, and finishing about a wheel length behind her. I’m happy for her, though – she raced so well in the end. All the other girls did really well out there today.’
Picture of the elite women’s podium (from left to right): Moolman-Pasio, Dalton and Kachelhoffer, courtesy of Stuart Pickering, Cycling Direct. Other pictures also by Pickering
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
ROAD RACE (Elite, U23, U19 Women)
1 Heidi Dalton 3hr 43min 37.572sec
2 An-Li Kachelhoffer 3:57:15.726
3 Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio 3:57:16.419
4 Juanita Venter 3:57:22.826 5
5 Charlene Du Preez 3:57:23.222
1 Heidi Dalton 3:43:37.572
2 Michelle Benson 3:48:03.119
3 Bianca Haw 3:50:00.607
4 Chante Van Der Merwe 3:52:36.493
5 Hazel Magill 3:58:16.622
1 Ashley Parsons 2:34:17.985
2 Tiffany Keep 2:34:18.018
3 Elne Owen 2:34:18.150
4 Carla Steyn 2:34:18.249
5 Thana Groenewald 2:34:19.338
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