Teenage cycling sensation Cherise Taylor extended the winning streak of the MTN women’s team to five races for the year, when she out-sprinted a large bunch containing the country’s top cyclists to capture the Dischem Ride for Sight title in Boksburg on Sunday.
When it became evident that a bunch sprint would decide the outcome of one of the country’s biggest races, the 2007 Junior World Championship silver medallist was put into the perfect position by her team in the final kilometre of the 116km race.
Taylor’s team-mate Cashandra Slingerland sat on the front of the bunch to keep the pace high for the last kilometre to ensure that Team MTN was in control of the pace and able to place Taylor in the ideal position to pounce in the tricky, twisty final 200 metres.
"Cashandra strung the pack out with an amazing turn on the front and I was in third place going into the sharp left hander," explained a delighted Taylor. "This was the best position to sprint from as Yolandi du Toit (Cycle Lab Toyota) was leading, and she just took the last right-hander too wide so I cut in tight, and got ahead for the final kick to the line."
Taylor clocked 3 hours, 9 minutes and 32 seconds, which translates to a very respectable average speed of 36.7kph. Lynette Burger (Cycle Lab Toyota) finished second with Arien Torsius (Proline) claming third place. Taylor’s MTN team-mates, Marissa van der Merwe and Chrissie Viljoen rounded out the top five places.
True to their pre-race promise, Team MTN, the first-ever fully-professional South African women’s cycling team tackled the race with aggression. After 60km when they reached the only hills in the event, they launched a series of attacks in an effort try and get a breakaway off the front.
"We didn’t want to take a big bunch to the line, and while a few breakaway attempts looked promising, it all came together for the final 30-odd kilometres," said MTN team manager Thinus van der Merwe. "But the team’s aggressive riding definitely trimmed down the bunch and kept the racing positive which is one of the team’s goals for 2008."