Andrew McLean signalled his return to top form after a two-month injury lay-off with a stunning overall victory in the 27km Time Trial at the Msunduzi Road Challenge, Africa’s only leg of the new UCI World Cycling Tour on Saturday.
Racing in his 45-49 year age category, the Toyota Cyclelab icon was the only rider able to cover the demanding undulating course in less than 40 minutes, comfortably winning his age group and showing up dozens of time triallists decades younger than himself.
“I am actually pretty stunned,” he said afterwards. “I have only been back on the bike for three weeks after my knee injury and only done one serious race, so to have gone as well as I did in the time trial was really pleasing.
The course was tough but fair with some technical sections and quite a bit of climbing, but I thought it was a fair test of a riders all-round ability and an enjoyable ride.”
McLean’s teammate for the upcoming Absa Cape Epic Bruce Diesel crashed out of the Time Trial in a horrific accident after approaching the double right hand corner section too fast and crashing into the barrier, catapulting him over the opposite lane.
Diesel was rushed from the scene in an ambulance and is reported to be in a stable condition in hospital with facial and mouth injuries.
Myles van Musschenbroek posted a comprehensive win in the open division, catering from 16 year old to 29 year olds, but was a shade off the pace set by the on-form winner of 30-35 age category Neville Cragg.
Lynette Burger showed her undisputed Time Trial talent by romping to victory in the women’s race, with Maria Fourie and Ronel Van Staaten filling the other podium places in the 30-34 age group, while Isabel Moolman posted a solid performance to top the women’s 35-39 age group.
Norwegian entrant Sissel Vien won her 50-54 year age group and soaked up the opportunity to qualify for next years UCI World Cycling Tour Final and get vital experience on the course. The Oslo native, who lived in Johannesburg for two years enjoyed the challenge of the time trial layout.
“There was a little of everything, and I really enjoyed it,” she said. “It was longer than what I am used to for a time trial, but was good experience before the world champs here next year.”
Terry Burrell proudly took the gold in the men’s 75-79 year age group from his good friend Bryan Deacon, both of whom thrives in the recent decision to expand the masters age groups from a combined 65+ age grouping to separate five year groupings for all the older riders.
“It was a fierce, hard, good circuit and ideally suited for a World Champs Final,” said renowned road cyclist Jeremy Maartens, who has competed in Europe for a few years including Commonwealth Games and World Championship events. “It’s not flat, not too many climbs and the strongest guy will win something like this – a TT must have a bit of everything, especially at World Championship level. The route is great – tough as nails – and you have to think all the time, which is what a TT is about.”
117 time triallists took part in the 27km time trial, which offered 250m of climbing in the vicinity of the Lion Park. Most riders enthused over the course, noting that it was a slightly longer than usual Time Trial and included more climbing than anticipated.
The Msunduzi Road Challenge concludes with the mass participation road race on Sunday, covering distances of 90km, 111km or 126km.