Tyler Day and Cherise Taylor won their respective men’s and women’s Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle challenge in Cape Town on Sunday.
In the men’s race, Day, a first-year professional on the Bonitas Medscheme team, captured the biggest victory of his short career when he outsprinted a large bunch to win.
Defending champion, Malcolm Lange, also of Team Bonitas Medscheme, finished second in what was the final race of his professional career, while Herman Fouche (DCM) rounded out the podium places in third.
Twenty-one-year-old Day, continued to build his reputation as a fearless fast-finisher, when he left his charge for the line until the last 150 metres. He popped out from behind his teammates and powered down the centre of the finishing straight to secure the 109km race title in a time of two hours 32 minutes and 10 seconds.
“We were patient and waited until near the finish to get our leadout going,” explained Day afterwards.
“We were happy to let the other teams lead the pack in the last few kilometres. It’s a long lead up to the finish and we didn’t want to use our energy until we needed to.
“My teammates helped get me near the front in the last kilometre and then I sat in behind them when they formed a leadout train for me. It really was a perfectly timed race for us. Malcolm (Lange) is just the best teacher and the team was just amazing.”
In the women’s race, Taylor, riding for team USN, overcame an early mechanical setback that almost ended her race to sprint to a narrow win.
The 21-year-old multiple South African champion just managed to pip Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Nashua Toyota) to the line in a thrilling sprint to win the coveted title for the second time in her career in a time of two hours 49 minutes and 45 seconds. English rider Catherine Williamson (Team bizhub) was third.
The women started with the 30-39-year-old Veteran men, which minimised the chances of a tactical race as the pace of the Veteran men is consistently high throughout. The biggest challenge for the women was staying out of trouble in such a large pack.
Team USN’s Karien van Jaarsveld was one rider unable to avoid a mishap when she crashed after 20km. She wasn’t seriously hurt and managed to remount and continue, but during her tumble, her bike clipped teammate Taylor’s back wheel, causing it to puncture.
“It was an eventful race for me,” said a relieved Taylor afterwards.
“It seemed like the odds were really against me today. My teammates were amazing with their support. I really was quite tired from all of the stress and having to get back to the bunch and the attacks up the climbs.” said Taylor.
Taylor’s misfortune continued right into the finishing straight. But fortunately for her, ended well.
“As I first kicked for the finish my gears slipped and I had to re-gather myself and start it again. In hindsight, it was probably a good thing or I might have started sprinting too early. I caught Ashleigh just before the finish line so timing wise, it worked out perfectly,” smiled Taylor.
This was Taylor’s sixth win in nine days. She won two stages and the overall title at the Columbia Grape Escape mountain bike stage race last weekend.