Cyclists show mettle

JOHN-LEE Augustyn and Anriette Schoeman underlined their cycling credentials by conquering the notorious Powerade Alexander Road Rollercoaster cycle race at the weekend.

The event lived up to its reputation again by shattering the field into many small groups.

This race takes the riders over all the notorious climbs in the Port Elizabeth region.

There was a huge sense of excitement as the licensed men and women lined up at the start with Augustyn (Mecer NMMU) and Schoeman (Mecer Africa Silks) among the favourites. It was also clear that the NMMU team and Wayne Pheiffer Walmer Club team would be the two dominant teams on the road.

As expected, NMMU had riders down the road within the first 6km of the race, who were chased hard by Clinton Barrow (Action Cycles) and Conrad Viljoen (Novo Nordisk).

At this stage, top women Schoeman, Allison Hertel and Colleen Stevens were with the main chasing bunch, hidden among the men.

The bunch closed the gap on the breakaway group just before the Klein Draaifontein turn-off.

Schoeman found herself in deep trouble when her front tyre punctured as NMMU launched attack after attack, but a quick wheel change soon had her back in the main bunch.

Another attack on Surrey Hills shattered the bunch, with Colleen Stevens being left behind as Schoeman and Hertel had to hang on for dear life.

Unfortunately, Hertel also lost contact with the field at the top of the climb. Facing the notorious Three Sisters and with little time to recover, NMMU launched another attack, leaving seasoned riders Francois Geldenhuys and Wayne Pheiffer behind as Viljoen and Barrow tried to close the gap on Gerrit Nell (NMMU) and teammate Marinus Prinsloo, while Augustyn kept a close eye on the two trying to chase down his teammates.

Schoeman was still in the chasing bunch with Augustyn, opening the time gap on Hertel, who was just 25 seconds behind them. A frantic chase followed down the 5km climb to Seaview where Nell and Prinsloo were caught.

After a series of attacks by NMMU, Augustyn and Prinsloo got away. This forced Viljoen and Barrow to work hard to close the gap, but the problem for them was they had top sprinters Rodger Pheiffer (Wayne Pheiffer Cycles) and Wesley Todkill in the bunch with them and they used much energy to close the gap up the Chelsea Upper Seaview climb.

The hard pace proved too much for the last woman in the chasing bunch and Schoeman lost contact with the group.

Back on the Seaview Road it was clear that Augustyn and Prinsloo were away and their chasers were losing ground on them. Also, Schoeman had opened the gap on Hertel.

Augustyn and Prinsloo finished together with Augustyn crossing the line first. Rodger Pheiffer took the bunch sprint to end third. Schoeman stayed ahead to win the women’s title, with Allison Hertel second and Colleen Stevens third.

On Sunday, Port Elizabeth will host the second leg of the Engen Dynamic National Series at Altona Primary School.

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