Eight-time South African champion and former Olympian, Anriëtte Schoeman, gave her young rivals a lesson in race tactics when she won the Dome-2-Dome road cycling race in Krugersdorp on Sunday.
Schoeman (Nashua Toyota) out-sprinted Lise Olivier (MTN Qhubeka) to claim the prestigious title with An-Li Pretorius (MTN Qhubeka) completing the podium positions in the 98km race, which was shorted to 94km due to road works.
It was a powerful sprint that saw Schoeman out-kick Olivier in the final few hundred meters, but it was what happened in the previous 93-odd km that put Schoeman into an ideal race-winning position, largely as a result of her vast experience.
“With just two riders on our team because the others are racing in Europe, my teammate, Lynette Burger, and I decided we’d have no choice but to race smart and support each other no matter what if we had any hope of winning,” explained Schoeman.
“MTN Qhubeka had six riders so outnumbered us quite substantially. We knew they’d be the team to watch and really made sure we either had a presence in every break, or that we chased it down. One of our Nashua CSA Academy riders, Leandri du Toit, was in the race too, so she worked together with us initially.”
The first break of the day included Du Toit (Nashua CSA Academy) and Jeaun-Mari Breytenbach (MTN Qhubeka) and it stayed clear for almost the first half of the race.
“We had Leandri up there and knew that if MTN had a rider there, the race pace would be more predictable and easier for us to manage as a small team on the day,” said Schoeman.
But Du Toit, still a junior, eventually dropped off the pace, compelling Schoeman to ride across along with MTN Qhubeka rider, An-Li Pretorius to join Breytenbach at the front. At 60km covered, the MTN Qhubeka pair of Olivier and Sarah Chemaly bridged across to the leaders with Burger in tow.
“We then had six in the lead bunch, two from Nashua Toyota and four from MTN Qhubeka. From 25km to go, Lise (Olivier) put in a series of attacks, which I managed to survive and even counter. The other four girls dropped off and it was just Lise and I in front with around 15km left.
“I was quite happy with this because there was now just one opposition team rider to worry about and not three. Lise wasn’t interested in doing any of the pacing in the last 15km though, so I just focused on making it hard enough so that nobody from behind could catch us.”
Schoeman’s steady pace ensured the pair held onto their lead and when they hit the final 3km climb to the finish up Sterkfontein Hill, Olivier attacked.
“I expected Lise to attack because she’d been sitting on for the last 10 kays or so. She’s also a strong climber and the race finished on a climb,” said Schoeman. “She attacked a few times and each time I was able to stick with her. As an experienced sprinter, I started my finishing kick quite a long way out and that was enough to get rid of her and give me the win.”
It was the second time Schoeman has won the Dome-2-Dome title, the first was in 2008. The course has changed over the past few years and shortened from what was at one point 116km.
“The course was shorter, but this is still a hard race,” said Schoeman. “Finishing on the Sterkfontein climb was particularly challenging. I really wanted to win here today so that makes my victory even sweeter. And even though my team was a lot smaller today, my teammates offered great support, which allowed me to race smart and hard.”
Leading Elite Women’s Results at the 2011 94km Dome-2-Dome, on Sunday 4 September, 2011:1. Anriëtte Schoeman (Nashua Toyota) 2hr 40min 49sec 2. Lise Olivier (MTN Qhubeka) 2:40:49 3. An-Li Pretorius (MTN Qhubeka) 2:42:49 4. Lynette Burger (Nashua Toyota) 2:42:50 5. Jeaun-Mari Breytenbach (MTN Qhubeka) 2:43:49 6. Sarah Chemaly (MTN Qhubeka) 2:46:28 7. Charlotte van der Merwe (MTN Qhubeka) 2:47:04 8. Cashandra Slingerland (FJR) 2:47:31 9. Annah Watkinson 2:47:41 10. Linda van den Biggelaar 2:48:16