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Aces take a tumble

Up and coming cyclist Leandri du Toit is a good example of one tough cyclist, proving it in no uncertain terms at the Tour de Free State this week, writes Mark Etheridge.

Mixing it with the pros, the 21-year-old Potchefstroom student had high hopes of showing her mettle in the first stage of the tour, the last Olympic qualification cycle race before the cut-off.

But then with the finish almost in sight, it was the metal of her bike that made contact with the tar and sent her tumbling.

“It was quite a crash, I still can’t believe I got switched 3km to the finish and I was still in the front bunch,” she told Road to London 2012 on Friday’s rest day before Saturday’s penultimate day in Clarens.

“Two girls in front of me touched wheels and the one that was in front of me hit the other girls wheel and swung into my front wheel ÔÇô I had no control of my bike and went straight down.”

Luckily for her, X-rays revealed no bone damage, but her bike was in five pieces! “I’m still racing, just with a different bike because mine is in pieces.. luckily I didn’t break anything, but the racing is very dangerous and here is a lot of crashes and very close crashes.

“I hurt my finger quite badly but the rest is only bruises and scratches! ” Already she’s looking forward to Saturday’s penultimate stage. “Tomorrow is Clarens’ big hills!”

Du Toit, studying her third year of a Consumer Sciences degree at Potchefstroom University, has had her fair share of health and accident issues on her road to hopefully, the 2016 Olympics in Rio. She picked up glandular fever in the build-up to World Student Games in China last year and when she finally got to China a bad crash in the road race saw her sidelined for a few weeks with concussion. She still attended the All Africa Games in Mozambique last year, along with Lynette Burger who now coaches the Riebeeckstad cyclist.

Just recently she won the Bela Bela road race, a 101km ride from Sondela, so she’s in good form right now.

Also in the wars was fellow South African Jo van de Winkel who took a tumble in Thursday’s second stage. Riding for Lotto-Belisol, she tried to cover a move with team-mate Ashleigh Moolman Pasio. “I didn’t see a hole in the road and my wheel twisted and I came down,” said Van de Winkel who has been campaigning in Europe in the bid for UCI points.

“On my bike again and at high speed back my front wheel burst and I hit a cats-eye and my wheel buckled under me.” Van de Winkel took a blow to the head and was unconscious for a while and didn’t finish the stage.