Prestigious medals were aplenty for the road cycling team participating at the 10th All Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique that took place from 3rd to 18th September.
From the onset on Thursday (8 September), the South African team began their onslaught despite the threat of non-road closure taking place in the capital city. After a 90-minute delay before the start of the women’s 13km Time Trial, Lise Olivier and Lynette Burger went the wrong way on two occasions, yet still managed to secure a gold and bronze medal respectively.
The men raced 2 laps of the 13km loop – Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg performed at his best to obliterate the field at an average speed of 45km/h and claim his gold medal whilst compatriot Darren Lill followed closely earning a silver medal.
Friday saw the men compete in the Team TT, again another 2-lap route around the city totalling 26km. After starting second from last, the South Africans raced to victory with ease clocking 35mins 12sec – with three to count for the team Reinhardt, Darren and Jay Thomson scored the result after Nolan Hoffman suffered a mechanical.
“It was quite windy but we rode strongly,” said Janse van Rensburg who was pleased with the team’s result.
Further domination by the South Africans occurred on Sunday for the final event of the cycling competition, the road race. After completing 60km in the women’s race, Burger triumphed to win a gold medal closely followed by Olivier who claimed silver. Both riders crossed the line in 01:30:44, whilst teammate Leandri du Toit finished seventh in 01:39.45.
“This win means a lot to me, this was probably the last time I’ll get to represent South Africa, so going out like this is quite emotional,” said the Team Nashua Toyota captain. “It might not earn International Cycling Union ranking points, but it helps give SA women’s cycling the recognition it deserves. We are not only the top women’s nation in Africa; our women are beginning to really succeed overseas now too. It is a good time for SA women’s cycling!”
The men followed suit with success in their 11-lap 140km road race, making a clean sweep of the medals and podium. This time the victory went to Hoffman in a time of 03:36:59 followed three seconds later by teammates Thomson, van Rensburg and Lill.
“We had a plan beforehand to have at least two guys in any of the breaks after the first hour of racing, during which I was hanging in there, we had a split and there was a bunch of about 14 guys,” said Hoffman, who rides for the Tasol-GT outfit.
The bunch became six, and was knocked down to four after an attack up the climb of the second last lap. As a sprinter, Hoffman was able to finish it off with a victory.
“In terms of prestige this is certainly one of the big ones to win. The Games are well known and it’s great to have this on my CV,” concluded the 26-year-old Pretoria-based rider.