Lynette Burger continued her run of peak form when she won the overall Elite women’s title at the 2012 Best Med Jock Cycle Tour, in Barberton on Saturday.
Widely considered South Africa’s toughest one-day race, ‘The Jock’, now run over three stages, totalling 153km, is a coveted race on the South African professional race calendar. And for Burger, who races for the Toyota CSA Academy team, it turned into a challenge both on and off the bike, but ultimately gave the 31-year-old her first-ever win in the iconic race.
Once again, the women raced with the 50-plus veteran men. The first stage, a 48km leg from Barberton to Nelspruit, saw MTN Qhubeka’s An-Li Pretorius and Karien Alberts make a strong start, claiming first and second places respectively.
Burger, who was dropped on the famous ‘Hilltop’ climb, just failed to reach the lead group by the finish, but managed to claim third place, a few seconds adrift.
The demanding second stage, a 58km haul from Nelspruit to Kaapmuiden over the testing ‘Boulders’ climb saw the field splinter dramatically. An eager Pretorius raced aggressively from the start and only Burger and Lee-Zaan Henrichsen (EOH) were able to stay in contact with her. Pretorius then moved clear over the top of Boulders and it required a hard effort for Burger to rejoin the leading group just before the start of the descent.
“None of the 50+ men wanted to help me get back, not making it easy at all but I managed to claw my way back to the front and got back on just before the descent. And I immediately attacked on the first corner of the descent,” explained Burger.
“I am very comfortable going downhill especially with loads of corners, so I managed to open a gap and stayed away till the finish, making up for the time I lost on the first stage and gaining a couple of seconds,” added Burger.
Pretorius finished the stage in second place and Henrichsen was third.
The final stage, a 53km leg from Kaapmuiden to Barberton, was started under a cloud of confusion. The race officials had Pretorius as the overall leader by five seconds over Burger on elapsed time. But according to Burger’s team manager, David Pieterse, it was Burger who should have been leading into the final stage.
Alberts won the final leg ahead of Burger with Pretorius in third, giving MTN Qhubeka their second stage win. But it was Burger who was declared the overall winner once the officials had examined the finish line camera footage of Stage 2 – at the request of Burger – they determined that Toyota CSA Academy rider had actually won the overall title from Pretorius by two seconds.
“I guess over three stages and 153km, two seconds is like a couple of metres, but a win is a win. I am so happy, I’ve always dreamed about winning The Jock but never thought that it was possible. I guess anything is possible as long as you set your mind to it,” smiled an elated Burger, who will now focus on winning a medal at the Masters World Championships in Pietermaritzburg next month in the 30-34-age category.