PE’s Schoeman keeps 99er title

Anriette Schoeman, left, and Alessandra Keller going shoulder-to-shoulder over the summit of the Vissershok climb at the weekend

Star cyclist successfully defends crown in Cape Town

Port Elizabeth’s star cyclist Anriette Schoeman (Africa Silks Bestmed) successfully defended her 99er Cycle Tour title against top international riders in Cape Town.

It was the perfect build-up as she prepares to defend her Herald Continental Cycle Tour title next weekend.

The women started the 102km race with the men in the percentage group of 87 riders with more than 2 500 cyclists participating in the 20th running of the 99er.

The race started in near-perfect conditions at the Durbanville Race Course. A high pace by the race leaders saw riders lose contact with the bunch within the first 7km.

The very flat route made it very difficult for riders to break away as the bunch quickly neutralised such efforts.

Schoeman was closely watched throughout the race by top Swiss rider Alessandra Keller and Lucy James, of New Zealand.

Keller stayed close to Schoeman and it was clear that the Vissershok climb, 4km from the finish, would determine the winner.

Keller is ranked 12th in the world as an MTB/XCO elite rider and regularly features on the podium of U23 age-group races around the world.

She is in South Africa to participate in the World Cup in Stellenbosch in March.

She is also a fierce road cycling competitor and will take part in the Cape Town Cycle Tour. Both Schoeman and Keller made their move on the Vissershok climb, racing shoulder-to-shoulder up the 3km steep climb, leaving the men behind in the process.

They launched attacks on each other but both counter-attacked immediately.

The two went over the summit of Vissershok with neither giving an inch.

They were followed by James, who closed the gap with 3km to go.

The finish of the race was in Durbanville on top of a steep 1km climb. Schoeman attacked first with 800m to go and was immediately challenged by Keller.

With 250m to go, Schoeman attacked again and committed to her final sprint to win the race in two hours, 48 minutes and 59 seconds.

Keller finished second in 2:49:07 and James third in 2:49:17.

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