Anriëtte Schoeman, racing in Mecer Africa Silks colours, showed true form when she won the 2013 Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Knysna Rotary Cycle Tour for a record 15th time, this after racing in the 2013 Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Knysna Rotary MTB Tour over 80km the previous day.
The previous day, Schoeman managed to finish in a well-deserved fourth place with Candice Neetling winning gold ahead of Mariske Strauss in second, and Ischen Stopforth placing third.
Back on Schoeman’s turf, a fierce pace was set right from the start by the two top pro teams, Bonitas and Ubantu, and the bunch was shattered into smaller groups within two kilometres from the start. And, as expected, Bonitas launched attack after attack on the steep 4km Knysna climb, eight kilometres into the race.
The pressure became too much for some of the top ladies and Monique Gerber (Mecer NMMU), Leandri du Toit, Neethling and Lynette Burger lost contact with the main group, while Schoeman, Heidi Dalton and Mariske Strauss manage to stay with the leading bunch.
Burger and Neethling managed to work their way back to the leading group 14km into the race after a vicious chase but, just as they rejoined the bunch, they were faced with the 2km Buffuls Bay climb, where the men launched another attack, and they lost contact with the leading group once again.
At the front, Schoeman, Dalton and Strauss impressed as they managed to stay with the top elite men up to 68km into the race, when fierce attacks by the Bonitas team to get riders away caused Dalton to lose contact with Schoeman and Strauss, who were taking each other on for the Queen of the Mountain title at the top of the four-kilometre climb.
Demonstrating her racing class, Schoeman just manage to pip Strauss on the line to take the QOM title 72km’s into the race.
Strauss and Schoeman manage to stay away with Dalton chasing in the group, 20 seconds behind.
With 1km to go it was clear that the race win would be determined by a sprint to the finish. Strauss led the sprint to the finish with Schoeman right on her wheel, but with 150m to go, Schoeman passed Strauss to win the race in 1:56:22, with Dalton closing out the podium just 15 seconds behind Strauss.
Leading Ladies Results for the 80km 2013 Pick n Pay Weekend Argus Knysna Rotary Cycle Tour: 1. Anriëtte Schoeman: 1:56:22 2. Mariske Strauss: 1:56:24 3. Heidi Dalton: 1:56:39 4. Karen du Toit: 2:06:28 5. Monique Gerber: 2:09:02 6. Lynette Burger: 2:09:02 7. Leandri du Toit: 2:09:07 8. Candice Neethling: 2:11:00 9. Kim van Klaveren: 2:13:09 10. Junita Kruger: 2:13:10 11. Michaela Petersen: 2:13:57
(With editing by gsport)