New feather in Schoeman’s cap after mountain bike race triumph
Port Elizabeth’s Anriette Schoeman threw her helmet into the ring to bring home the title in The Herald Continental Cycle Tour 80km Extreme mountain bike event yesterday, while KwaZulu Natal’s Andrew Hill was the first man back.
Schoeman, a regular podium finisher in the 106km Classic road race, entered her first offroad Cycle Tour race, crossing the finish line at the Addo Polo Club in 3hr 28min 14sec, ahead of Dutch rider and Port Elizabeth resident Siska van der Bijl (3:30:54), with Pauline Tunstead (4:07:00) crossing in third place.
Hill (2:52:31) finished more than four minutes ahead of Bay rider Marco Joubert (2:56:47), with Jason Peach crossing the line in a time of 3:07:09.
Another Bay racer, Grant Daly, who was involved in a car accident on the way to the event, still made it to the start line to finish two minutes behind Peach in fourth place.
Thousands of riders braved wet and muddy conditions to take on the 30km, 60km and 80km races through the Zuurberg mountains.
After 25mm of rain fell on Saturday night, race officials decided to change the route for the cyclists’ safety.
These conditions did not deter Schoeman, who said she never considered dropping out, as many of her counterparts had.
“I just switched my brain off and thought ‘it’s going to be a messy day at the office’,” Schoeman said. “Although it was very muddy, it was safe.
“It was my first Cycle Tour mountain bike event. I’ve done dozens of road tours, so I thought I’d come here and support the mountain bike race.”
She and Van der Bijl stuck together throughout the race and were neck and neck until the last few kilometres, when Schoeman broke away.
With 15km to go, she took her chance. “Siska was like ‘no, leave me here, go for it’,” Schoeman, Van der Bijl’s mentor, said.
“If she was the stronger rider today, I wouldn’t have minded getting my butt kicked. I had good legs today. It was a good effort.”
At the first water point, there was a big lead group that included Joubert, Jason Meaton and Schoeman.
Joubert and Daly led the pack up the Zuurberg pass until Hill made a move to win King of the Mountain. Schoeman took the Queen of the Mountain title.
At the halfway point, Hill and Meaton were a minute apart, with Jason Peach and Daly not far behind. Hill eventually pulled away from the pack to race to victory.
“I seem to bring the rain wherever I go,” he joked. “It was really a good day out, I’m super happy to take the win today.
“I didn’t want to bring it down to a sprint finish because I knew Marco had a good kick with cross-country riding in his legs, so I had to push the effort,” Hill said.
Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip inconspicuously took part in the 60km Adventure Challenge and finished in a respectable time of 3:16:00. He will also be on the road next week in the 106km Classic.
“We once again showcased this part of the world as a sport tourism destination,” Trollip said. “This is a great race that is getting better every year, and Nelson Mandela Bay is very happy to co-sponsor this event and make sure we can have fun in this city of ours and the surrounding municipalities.”
In the 60km race, Eben Hartslief took the honours, with Gerrit Rautenbach and Lloyd Vos coming in second and third respectively.
Kelsey van Schoor was the first woman to cross the line, followed by Hannah Oelofsen and Anthonette Miller.