South African ex-pat Jeffrey Kriel, now racing in Australian colours, won the 4Ever Cycles Hill Dash in tough, hot and windy conditions that formally kicked off the week of road cycling that culminates in the UCI World Cycling Tour Final later in the week.
Kriel, originally from Vanderbijl Park and now settled in Perth, won a three-way end sprint at the conclusion of the tough 7,62km climb from the city of Pietermaritzburg up to Hilton, pipping Andrew Pattern to the line, with Hungarian Peter Havas the last of the leading trio to cross the line.
“It’s pretty crazy that I have to return to my homeland to race in my first international event,” said Kriel who will contest the 30-34 year age group road race. “It was a great way to shake off the jet lag, and I didn’t really know what I had let myself in for but it was great fun.”
A small group of riders elected to tackle the tough climb up Old Howick Road that ascends 500 metres on the 7,62km long course. The riders also had to deal with a head-on Berg wind that made the social leg-loosener tougher than expected.
“The wind was hot and pretty strong out there,” said Dutch rider Marti Valks, the current time trial world champion in her 55-59 year age group.
Norwegian rider Jone Ellingson was also using the ride to prepare for the defence of his time trial title in the 35-39 year age group, and welcomed the opportunity to race with his son Christopher, who turns 14 on Tuesday.
“It was pretty hot on the road today, but it was very enjoyable,” said Ellingson, who was proudly wearing the rainbow stripes that he won at the UCI World Cycle Tour Final in Belgium last year.
The Ellingsons spent time on the 25km course at Wartburg, which will decide the amateur time trial world titles on Thursday afternoon. “The road is very fast and smooth and it will be great for the time trial,” said Jone Ellinson.
While the keen hill climbers were slogging up Town Hill to Hilton, dozens of international riders were out on the road race route from the start at Alexandra Park out towards Albert Falls dam and then towards Wartburg Dalton and New Hanover.
A sizeable field is expected to take part in the social road race at the Mount Verde Estate outside Hilton, which is the last of the informal events on offer to help the visitors acclimatise and shake of their jet lag. Riders can take part in a 36km, 48km or 60km road race.
Summary of Results – 4Ever Cycles Hill Dash
Programme of Events – UCI World Cycling Tour Final 2012