Anriëtte Schoeman (Mecer/Africa Silks) won first of the three-legged Engen Dynamic Cycle Challenge races (EDCC) in Wellington this past weekend on Sunday after winning the grueling Pennypinchers Cycle Tour in Oudtshoorn on Saturday.
Schoeman showed great form when she managed to defend her 104km Pennypinchers title with Lindi Dorfling (bizhub) in Oudtshoorn on Saturday, now the 3nd year that Oudtshoorn hosts what has become the Karoo’s biggest cycle tour.
The ladies started the Cape Argus qualifier with the men in the Open Licensed Group at a very high pace, as the Nuwater team from Cape Town and Team Focus tried to drop riders right away.
The bunch was broken into smaller groups within the first 6 kilometers of the race on the Cango Caves road, as riders from Nuwater suceeded in getting gaway, but the top ladies managed to stay with the chasing bunch.
Anriëtte Schoeman (Mecer) made her first move 23km into the race at the 2km Schoemanskloof climb, but Dorfling missed the break and lost contact with the chasing bunch, and the hard pace set by the chasing men proved too much for Fienie Barnard who lost contact with Schoeman’s group 28km into the race, on the Boomplaas climb.
With 72km to go the heat and continuous climbs at the foot of the Swartberg Mountain started to take its toll on the riders, as the bunches started to disintegrate into smaller groups, but Schoeman capitalised by opening a 45-sec time-gap on Barnard’s group who were fighting desperately to close the gap.
Their persistence paid off when they managed to close the gap on Schoeman’s group with 17km to go, and at this stage it was clear that the outcome of the ladies race would be determined by a sprint to the finish between Schoeman and Barnard.
Both ladies faced the challenge that they would have to sprint twice in the last 2km of the race as The Congo Crocodile Range offered a lovely prize for the first lady past the range, 2km from the finish, and in the end Schoeman had the power to sprint ahead to take the sprint at the crocodile range as well as the sprint to the finish to win the race in 2:51:42 with Fienie Barnard 2nd in 2:51:43 and Lindi Dorfling 3rd in 2:57:42.
But that was not the end of the weekend’s business for the six-time winner of the Cape Argus Cycle Tour, and this time the ladies enjoyed their own start in the 95km Challenge.
From the start it was clear that the riders from Team Mecer and Team MTN Qhubeka will be the main role-players. The race started with a steady pace over the first 35km, and it was clear that the top guns were waiting for the 4km climb at Riebeeck Kasteel to make their move.
Anriëtte Schoeman immediately went to the front of the bunch at the foot of the climb closely followed by Sarah Chemaly (MTN Qhubeka), Cashandra Slingerland (Mecer) and Charlotte van der Merwe (MTN Qhubeka).
Halfway up the climb the bunch started to breakup into small groups as Schoeman lifted the pace, closely followed by Chemaly. Chemaly and Schoeman were the first ladies over the summit of the climb chased by Slingerland who were 20sec off. Slingerland managed to get back to Schoeman and Chemaly on the descend after a 5km chase.
The ladies who lost contact on the climb regrouped and chased very hard to get back to the leading three riders. With 50km to go the time gap was 58 seconds with Charlotte van der Merwe and Cathy Carstens working very hard to close the gap, which was however steadily getting bigger.
With 55km to go the time gap grew to two minutes, and it was clear that the break was away.
Sportsmanship prevailed when the two Mecer riders decided not to attack Chemaly in the last few kilometers rather taking the race to the finish. Cashandra Slingerland made her move with 1km to go setting a very hard pace on the long descend to the finish.
Chemaly immediately went onto Slingerlands wheel closely followed by Schoeman. Schoeman launched her sprint with 150m to go, passing Slingerland and Chemaly to win with Chemaly finished in second place, and Slingerland in third.