The silver medal went to Burger’s compatriot, Lise Olivier, with Mauritian, Aurelie Halbwachs, securing the bronze medal in the 53km circuit race through the streets of Maputo. Sunday’s gold and silver medals, gave the South African women four medals in total after Olivier claimed gold and Burger bronze in the individual time trial last week.
On Sunday, Olivier attacked on a climb on the first of four laps and Burger then rode across to her. The pair then worked together to build a lead of over three minutes over the chasing group, with Burger crossing the finish line first.
Burger, the 2009 South African road race champion, has been in Lady Luck’s bad books for much of the past 18 months, with serious crashes hampering a return to peak race-winning form.
But on Sunday, the 30-year-old captain of the Nashua Toyota professional women’s team found the climb to the top step of the podium a rewarding one, especially since she is still not fully recovered from a fractured elbow sustained in a crash three months ago.
“Personally, this win means a lot. This was probably the last time I’ll get to represent South Africa, so going out like this is quite emotional. It might not earn International Cycling Union ranking points, but it helps give SA women’s cycling the recognition it deserves. We are not only the top women’s nation in Africa; our women are beginning to really succeed overseas now too. It is a good time for SA women’s cycling!”
Sunday’s road race victory helped make up for some disappointment in last Thursday’s individual time trial, where Burger claimed the bronze medal. It was a frustrating ride for Burger, who missed a couple of turns through the busy Maputo streets.
“They were only able to close the time trial circuit for the actual race, so we couldn’t practice on the circuit. That made it tricky when it came to the race. I wasn’t the only one that went off course, Lise, my SA teammate who won the gold medal, also went off course. It’s just frustrating because you don’t really know what your time and position could have been. But today’s gold medal helped make up for that,” smiled Burger.
In June, Burger crashed and broke her elbow and wrist. Her arm was in plaster for six weeks, but she raced on the back of a tandem in order to maintain race fitness. Last February she crashed and cut her knee at the Tour of Qatar and then a week later, crashed at the national road championships fracturing vertebrae, breaking four teeth and lacerating her face.
“It’s been tough. Just when I’d recovered from last year’s big crash and was starting to win races again, I had this fall and badly injured my arm. That’s why today’s victory means more than most will know,” said Burger.
This is Burger’s third continental title after having won the African Championships individual time trial gold medal in 2007 and the African Championships road race gold in 2009. The All Africa Games gold medal is her first multi-sport event title.