By Mark Etheridge
in Brazzaville, Congo
Cycling provided another two medals towards Team South Africa’s African Games cause here on a hot and humid Friday.
First Lise Olivier rode to something of a surprise bronze medal in the women’s individual time trial and then Gustav Basson secured silver in the men’s time trial.
Both races were decided over a 12.5 kilometre loop through the town, with thousands of locals looking on.
In the women’s race young Heidi Dalton went off first for SA in a field of 24 riders and would have been expected to produce the more powerful of performances but handlebar and health problems combined to set her back and she came in seventh in 18min 14.76sec.
‘My handlebars slipped lower earlier into the TT. So that didn’t help things and I wasn’t 100% right today as I’ve been having cold and flu symptoms and am on antibiotics,’ said the 20-year-old Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal rider who based herself largely in Gauging as she studies for a Sports Science degree.
As for Olivier, the ‘veteran’ of the team at 32, she was pretty chuffed at her bronze in a time of 18:06.57 as Eritrea’s Mosama Debesay won in 18:01.
‘This is my first time trial in three years and only the second time I’ve ridden this new bike. The first time was in yesterday’s team time trial,’ she said.
‘This wasn’t our strongest side as our top girls are away in Europe but it’s always great to get another medal for the team and keep SA and women’s cycling in the news.’
On to the boys and it was Gustav Basson and HB Kruger who flew the flag for SA in a field of 45 starters.
Basson was first of the two to blast off and within a kilometre he was up to 75kph and some change as the course took in a short descent.
He covered the course at an average speed of just over 49kph as he came home for silver in 15:18.55, that’s 3.93sec behind another Eritrean rider, Meron Teshome Hagos (15:14.62).
‘I could probably have gone a bit quicker,’ said the Potchefstroom product who trains under 1994 Olympian JP van Zyl. ‘I was off for more than two months with a prostate gland problem and have only been back in the saddle for four weeks now.’
Explaining further, he said: ‘I did moto-cross when I was younger and had a few crashes and now with growing up etc it caused some problems so I was on treatment for a while and not allowed to ride.
‘I averaged about 400 watts of power today and I think if I was 100% I would have been pushing about 420 or so. The course was nice but you had to be careful in the corners with all the loose sand.
‘The crowds were much better today though and there was just the odd pedestrian stepping into the road. My last time trial was in the Tour de Boland in February and now I’m going to prepare for Dome-to-Dome in the next two weeks.’
Kruger, Basson’s teammate in the squad that won team trial gold the previous day, took fifth in a time of 15:39.87.
Next up for the two-wheeled flyers are the women’s road race on Friday and the men’s event on Sunday.