Cycling South Africa’s Road Commission caught the first glimpse of their long term plan for competitive road racing come into fruition yesterday, when the U23 men took to the road in Copenhagen for the 2011 UCI World Road Cycling Championships in Denmark.
The team had prepared to be closely involved in one or two moves before the end of their twelve-lap, 168km road race in order to place pressure on the stronger sprinting teams, in an attempt to prevent them from executing a proper lead-out, and to expose an area for our riders to make an impression in the final sprint.
Reynard Butler was impressive in some earlier moves, with Johann van Zyl following suit before he suffered an unfortunate puncture – this denied the young South Africans the opportunity to play out the softening attacks near the end.
Although recovering well from the puncture, bridging the 58-second gap back to the bunch eventually took its toll on van Zyl and he soon lost contact.
Louis Meintjes’ huge effort kept him at the front with the bunch, putting them under pressure in a 6-man group that broke away for one-and-a-half laps.
This forced the Aussies to chase early, but some unfortunate crashes near the end took Meintjes out of contention, with both Jennings and Janse Van Rensburg out of position – Van Rensburg fought hard to get to the front but the energy spent cost him dearly in the final sprint to the finish line.
France claimed a rare double of gold and silver as they calculated their timing to perfection on the final rise in the electrifying bunch sprint finish, with Great Britain claiming the bronze medal.
Final Results – Men’s U23 Road Race – 168.0 km (12 laps)
1 Arnaud Demare FRA 3:52:16
2 Adrien Petit FRA 3:52:16 +0
3 Andrew Fenn GBR 3:52:16 +0
4 Rudiger Selig GER 3:52:16 +0
5 Marco Haller AUT 3:52:16 +0
17 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg RSA 3:52:16 +0
46 Christopher Jennings RSA 3:52:16 +0
98 Louis Meintjes RSA 3:52:59 +43
118 Johann Van Zyl RSA 3:55:48 +3:32
123 Reynard Butler RSA 3:55:48 +3:32