SA cycling icon Anriette Schoeman overcame the odds to win a close contest against Lise Olivier, to lift the the 2014 Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Rotary Cycle Tour trophy in the coastal town over the weekend.
The ladies started the 110km tour with the Elite Pro men in freezing conditions. The new road race route, which included the long climbs up to the towns of Karatara and Barrington, turned out to be a shocker for most participants, as it is definitely one of the toughest one day races in South Africa.
With the pro men making the pace extremely fast from the go, the women were forced to hang on for dear life.
Lise Olivier (Velolife-Time Freight) was leading the ladies race after the first big climb, closely followed by Anriette Schoeman (Africa Silks/Bestmed), Carmen Buchacher and junior Monique Gerber (Bestmed), with Velolife junior ladies, Bianca Haw, Frankie du Toit, Kim Le Court and Amy Williams losing contact with the leading bunch on the 5km climb just outside Knysna.
Haw managed to catch up to the leading women just outside the town of Sedgefield when she crossed over the second bunch on the road, and Schoeman managed to take the lead to grab the Hotspot, just before the Karatara climb.
On the long and steep climb up to Karatara, Olivier again opened up a gap on the pursuing women, with Schoeman following closely behind Olivier up and over the summit.
Olivier was looking exceptionally strong at this point, and with two more big climbs to come, it seemed that she had Schoeman under pressure.
In an attempt to drop Schoeman, Olivier launched several attacks up the longest climb of the day heading up to the town of Barrington, but Schoeman – who was starting to find her rhythm – powered up for her own counter-attack, and managed to take the lead to capture the Queen of the Mountain.
At this stage, Schoeman and Olivier surprised when they went over the summit with the top men in the main bunch. The next ladies over the climb were Monique Gerber and Carmen Buchacher, with Haw now battling on the long climbs, losing contact with Gerber and Buchacher.
The tough Karatara climb and QOM took its toll on Schoeman and Olivier, who lost contact with the main bunch to form part of the third bunch on the road with 10 men. With 30km to go Schoeman and Olivier had the lead, followed by Gerber and Buchacher.
Olivier launched a huge attack on the last climb, 10km from Knysna, and only Schoeman could stay with her as the men were left behind. As soon as Schoeman caught her, Olivier counter-attacked immediately, leaving Schoeman to follow closely as they went over the summit.
Olivier lead out the sprint to the finish with Schoeman tight on her wheel, but with just 150m to go, Schoeman passed Olivier to take first place, with Olivier taking second ahead of Buchacher in third, just outsprinting SA top junior lady, Monique Gerber, who took fourth place.
Allison Hertel was the 1st Vets Lady to finish the race in 3:19:03.
Schoeman praised Olivier on her excellent climbing ability and said that she was looking forward to the Common Wealth Games with rides like Olivier, Ashleigh Pasio-Moolman, Cherise Taylor, Anli Kachelhoffer and Heidi Dalton in the National Team.
Photo 1 caption: SA cycling icon Anriette Schoeman overcame the odds to lift the the 2014 Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Rotary Cycle Tour trophy in the coastal town over the weekend. Photo: Alex Cooper
Photo 2 caption: The winner’s podium topped by Anriette Schoeman, with Lise Olivier (left) taking second ahead of Carmen Buchacher (right) in third place. Photo: Alex Cooper
(With editing by gsport)