The men didn’t take all the thunder at the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge as Germany’s Charlotte Becker celebrated with a whoop and a holler as she won the UCI 1.1 women’s race.
Becker, riding for the Norwegian-based Hitec Products team, outsprinted Spanish national champion Mavvi Garcia (Bizkaia-Durango) and South Africa’s Lise Olivier (Time Freight), who were second and third respectively. Officials had to consult the finish-line camera to decide which of Garcia and Olivier had taken the first runners-up spot. For Becker, though, it was a great end to a successful week for her and her team in South Africa.
“It was a good end to a really good week in this country,” said Becker, who had competed in the KZN Summer Series that preceded the Cycle Challenge. “We took three wins from three starts. Winning the Cycle Challenge was the perfect end to our stay here. It’s my first time in South Africa. I cannot wait to come back.”
Cashandra Slingerland (Cycle Nation) had been the first to get into a proper break in the race, time trialling away on the M1 South to go one-and-a-half minutes clear. The M1 South also saw the sad withdrawal of South African champion AnLi Kachelhoffer (Pretoria Box), who abandoned after coming into the race with an illness. She had been the South African favourite to take on Finland’s Lotta Lepisto (Cervelo-Bigla), who had taken bronze in the world championships. Cervelo-Bigla had been hoping to defend the title won by their South African star, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, in the inaugural women’s UCI race last year. Moolman-Pasio did not take part this year as she had crashed heavily before the event.
“To have a race of this stature in South Africa is really something special, so we just went out there and did our best,” said Olivier. “At this point the future of our team is a bit uncertain, so it was quite emotional and everyone did an incredible job to get me into the break.