Candice Lill and Mona Mitterwallner secure an emphatic GC win at the Tankwa Trek.
The Cannondale Factory Racing pair won the final stage, adding Stage 4 to their Stage 1 and 2 victories, taking their final margin of victory to nearly 9 minutes. The South African and World Marathon Champions were joined on the stage and general classification podiums by KMC-Ridley and Efficient Infiniti Insure.
Cannondale Factory Racing’s near-perfect trip to the Koue Bokkeveld began with victory on Stage 1, on Thursday. The opening day’s next most decisive moment of the race was unfortunately the crash of Annie Last. The Lapierre Mavic Unity rider crashed while following her teammate, Malene Degn, into the last section of singletrack and suffered a broken wrist, which put her out of the race. Last’s fall meant that Efficient Infiniti Insure inherited second on the stage and KMC-Ridley third. On Stage 2 that order, behind Lill and Mitterwallner was reversed. Janika Loiv and Yana Belomoina finished second at the end of the Witzenberg Valley route, knocking Vera Looser and Danielle Strydom into third on the general classification standings too. The following day, KMC-Ridley were best able to conquer the Merino Monster. Loiv and Belomoina secured the Queen of the Mountain hotspot and the stage victory. Stage 3 was the only day when Lill and Mitterwallner did not stand atop the podium.
On Stage 4 the pair went on the offensive early on. “Today being a nice short stage, with a lot of singletrack, I believed that the best way to race it is from the front,” Lill stated. “It’s the best way to control the race and avoid mistakes. The KMC-Ridley and Efficient Insure teams came with us, until Mona [Mitterwallner] noticed that the others were struggling. Then she said, ‘now we go’ and we did a 10-minute all-out effort. That snapped the elastic and from there we were able to control to the line.”
The stage victory was Cannondale Factory Racing’s third of the event. Loiv and Belomoina followed them across the line, 2 minutes and 2 seconds later, to secure second overall. “I really enjoyed the race” Belomoina smiled. “My form was better and the routes here reward you when you are feeling strong. The trails are a lot of fun to race!”
For the third day in a row Looser and Strydom were third across the line. “I’m really impressed with how Danielle raced,” Looser praised. “She’s a young rider with a lot of potential and I’m really excited for her.” “It was great racing with Vera,” Strydom added. “I learnt a lot from her and she really motivated me to keep pushing when things were tough and kept me calm when I got a bit overexcited too.”
The Efficient Infiniti Insure team ended the race 19 minutes down on the general classification, and 10 minutes behind the KMC-Ridley women in second. They were however the best part of an hour ahead of Lena Gerault and Margot Moschetti in fourth. The E-Fort team had started the final stage just 16 seconds ahead of Freewheel Cycology Absolute Motion on the general classification. Frances Janse Van Rensburg and Hayley Preen had a difficult final day and could not take the fight to their rivals; but still maintained their fifth overall ahead of Sarah Hill and Hayley Smith, who finished fifth on the day.
Along with the racing the UCI women enjoyed the general experience at the event too. “It’s impossible to pick a single highlight,” Mitterwallner said. “The landscapes are so beautiful, the trails are so good, and the race village is spectacular. I really enjoyed the early mornings and the peace out here, it’s so different to back home in Austria. Being able to shut off, after the stage, and relax while reading a book is special. I could just tell people, ‘There’s no signal’ and switch off my phone!”
Women’s Final GC Standings
|1. Cannondale Factory Racing: Candice Lill & Mona Mitterwallner (12:43:11)
|2. KMC Ridley: Janika Loiv & Yana Belomoina (12:52:06 | +8:55)
|3. Efficient Infiniti Insure: Vera Looser & Danielle Strydom (13:02:42 | +19:31)
|4. E-Fort: Lena Gerault & Margot Moschetti (13:49:52 | +1:06:41)
|5. Freewheel Cycology Absolute Motion: Frances Janse Van Rensburg & Hayley Preen (13:57:51 | +1:14:40)
For the full results from the Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, click here. | IMAGES: Max Sullivan and Oakpics