Midvaal Municipality hosted the 2024 South African Road Championships over four days from the first to the fourth of February. Dino Lloyd was on the scene to capture the drama and action.
Just shy of forty km South of Johannesburg, Cafe du Cirque served as the race venue, a popular start and post-ride venue for road, gravel and mountain bike rides throughout the year, making it a perfect venue with a socially collegial atmosphere and scaleable infrastructure. With a three-year deal signed, Cycling South Africa (CSA) and it’s partners can leverage a good event. Maybe even a “Super SA Champs” covering several codes.
SA Road Champs covers over 50 national titles over various age groupers, genders and para-athletes in individual time trial and road race events. The headliners are the Elite/U23 Men and Women Road Race events, however. A relatively flat start route with some rolling hills took riders on several laps before heading into Suikerbosrand Reserve for a loop.
It was in Suikerbosrand that the deciding factor played out among the longer climbs and descents in the heat. Any attacks on the early stages of the lap circuit contributed to fireworks once inside the cauldron of Suikerbosrand. This played out the same for both the men’s and women’s races, albeit under different dynamics.
The 138km women’s race played out almost completely to Sandton City/Cycle Nation’s game plan, keeping Carla Oberholzer and Jo van der Winkel fresh until the decisive reserve loop. While teammates Lisa Bone and Lexi Claasen covered any attacks that broke away. Oberholzer and Hayley Preen (Freewheel Cyclology) powered through the reserve exit, staying together for a dramatic sprint finish with Oberholzer taking the win and Preen in second. A tenacious S’annara Grove followed through shortly in third. Unfortunately, a crash into steel barriers early on in the race took out a number of riders with injuries, namely Melissa Kretzinger (Customised/Pirtek) and Madelaine le Roux (Zwift Academy).
In the men’s 182km race, similar tactics played out but with a more drawn-out race to the finish and no serious race incidents. Tristan Nortje launched a big pull off one of the earlier attacks and had an extended lead within the reserve loop. World Tour experience however saw Ryan Gibbons close down the gap to Nortje and pull ahead. The final finish with approximate two-minute splits, Ryan Gibbons, Tristan Norte and Morne van Niekerk. While the chase group containing Jaedon Terlouw and Travis Stedman locked in a sprint battle for the U23 title took fourth and fifth respectively.
Both fields had a quality level of riders in attendance, former champions, world tour pros and continental riders competed. With mountain bikers in the both the men and women providing enough protagonists to keep our drop bar brethren on their toes. Alan Hatherly (second ITT), Tristan Nortje (second road race), Jaedon Terlouw (SA Champ road race), Nico Bell, Phillip Buys, Sarah Hill, Hayley Preen (SA Champ ITT/second road race) and Tiffany Keep.
CSA and the hosts of Midvaal Municipality delivered a successful event on the day. There was a passion and buzz among all who attended and the event provided a high level of racing entertainment. | Full Results here
Chapeau to all involved.