SA Road Champs: Gibbons and Lill victorious in the Time Trial

Ryan Gibbons and Candice Lill claim 2021 Individual Time Trial titles at the South African Championships in Swellendam.

On a day not entirely suited to the individual time trial pursuit, Ryan Gibbons (UAE Team Emirates) and Candice Lill (faces.africa) claimed the men’s and women’s National Time Trial titles at the 2021 South African National Road Race and Time Trial Championships in Swellendam.

Riders compete in the SA Individual Time Trial Championships near Swellendam
The course for both the men’s and women’s races were fairly straightforward affairs.

The day started out cool with light drizzle, the rain coming down harder just as the women’s individual trial began at 10:10am. By the time the men started riding at 12 noon, the rain was gone for the day. Wind was a factor, with riders enjoying a tailwind for the first half of the out-and-back course, only to race the second half of the course into a headwind. The course for both the men’s and women’s races were fairly straightforward affairs. The men’s 40km route took riders out of Swellendam on the R60 towards Ashton before turning back towards Swellendam at the 20km mark. The women’s 30km race followed the same route, turning at 15km rather than 20. The men’s route had a total elevation of approximately 578m, with the women’s route gaining approximately 425.


Men’s Individual Time Trial

In the men’s elite race, the initial pace was set by Matt Beers, who was the first elite rider out of the starting block. Beers was a late replacement for Team type{DEV} NanoTime teammate Nico Bell, who pulled out of the race during the week due to illness. With just a few rides on a time trial bike prior to the National Championships, the formidable Beers was still able to lay down a marker for the field with a time of 52:38:12. No one else in the field was able to match Beers, until the last rider for the day Ryan Gibbons set off. Gibbons completed the 40km men’s time trial in a time of 51:24.08. “I knew it would be hard to beat Ryan, and he gave me a solid beating in the end,” said Beers. “I think if I lost by a few seconds I would be upset, but losing by a full minute is a hiding. I’m glad I did as well as I did after just two days of riding on the time trial bike.”

Gibbons, who won the Road Race and the Time Trial at the African Road Championships in Morocco earlier this month, was given the greenlight to travel to South Africa two weeks ago and put in a stellar performance in Swellendam. “Racing at the South African National Championships wasn’t in my original race calendar, but when the opportunity came to travel to South Africa I jumped at it,” said Gibbons. “I think it’s important for overseas pros to race on home soil as we don’t often get the chance. There was a strong field here and the local guys really rode well. My form was good coming into the event; I backed myself today but was surprised by the route as it seemed a bit harder than I originally thought. I just went as hard as I could and held on for as long as I could.” Kent Main (53:11:50) was the third-place rider in the men’s elite race.

Riders compete in the SA Individual Time Trial Championships near Swellendam
Men’s podium.

Women’s Individual Time Trial

Earlier in the day, the women’s elite race started in heavy rain. Right from the start, Lill looked like the rider to beat as she launched down the first descent and over the first small hill. Riding last in the elite women’s start group was Carla Oberholzer, who was crowned African time trial champion in Morocco earlier in March. Oberholzer also started like she needed to catch the last repatriation flight before lockdown, but on the day she couldn’t match Lill’s efforts

Ryan Gibbons and Candice Lill claim 2021 Individual Time Trial titles at the South African Championships in Swellendam.
The women’s elite race started in heavy rain

Zanri Rossouw, who finished third, also gave it everything on the day. It was a remarkable performance from Rossouw, who has not raced since two serious crashes, one at the Eritrea African Continental Championships and another at the African Games in Morocco, in 2019.

“I can’t believe I won,” said Lill who completed the women’s 30km time trial course in 47:04.42. “It seems a bit crazy. I had a really solid ride out there, although when you finish a time trial it always feels like you didn’t go hard enough. “But clearly today I did go hard enough, and I am stoked to be the South African Time Trial Champion. The course was tough, with lots of rolling hills so it really hurt out there.”

Lill said her husband Darren, a former national road race champion, played a large role in her victory today. “He gave me a lot of guidance on bike setup and how to approach the race. He told me not to worry about the rain, but I was worried if the breaks would actually work! My helmet fogged up a little at one stage and I couldn’t see where I was going, but I am used to racing in mud when it is raining, so it wasn’t too bad. It was a tough effort for 30km, but the end result was worth it.”

Riders compete in the SA Individual Time Trial Championships near Swellendam
Women’s podium.

Results

Men’s Elite TT
1 Ryan Gibbons 51:24.089
2 Matt Beers 52:38.121
3 Kent Main 53:11.501
Women’s Elite TT
1 Candice Lill 47:04.426
2 Carla Oberholzer 48:00.407
3 Zanri Rossouw 48:22.817
Men’s U23
1 Marc Oliver Pritzen 54:43.536
2 Jason Oosthuizen 54:54.322
3 Callum Ormiston 55:54.327

| IMAGE: Chris Hitchcock |


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