Jay Thomson and Robyn de Groot won the men and women’s titles respectively at the MTN OFM Classic, the Free State’s biggest road cycling race, on Sunday, but it was Arran Brown and Jennie Stenerhag who left Bloemfontein with green jerseys on their backs as leaders of the 2009 Alpha Pharm Seeding Series.
Thomson (MTN Energade) powered to the win out of a large lead pack in a time of 2hr 10min 16sec. His teammate, Christoff van Heerden crossed the finish line second, but was later penalised for dangerous sprinting, moving Tyler Day (Matlosana) and Brown (Medscheme) into second and third places respectively.
Early in the 97km race, which took place in cool, overcast, and breezy conditions, a seven-man break went clear on the rolling terrain. With a rider from each of the big teams in the group, it gained almost a three-minute lead on the peleton.
But Medscheme were concerned about the presence of sprinters Juan van Heerden (MTN Energade) and Nolan Hofmann (Neotel) in the break and began to drive a steady chase, eventually catching the group with 19km remaining to set up a big bunch dash for the line.
Thomson became the eighth rider to win one of the 10 Alpha Pharm Seeding Series events this year, confirming the spread of talent throughout the professional ranks in 2009.
With just three races in the 13-event series remaining, Brown now has a relatively healthy 60-point lead over his nearest rival in the Series, Hoffman, but will need to finish in a couple more podium positions if he is to secure the title.
In the women’s race, the ongoing duel between Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm) and Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms) reached a new level. The Series lead has changed between the two racers four times and looks set to go down to the last event to determine the final wearer.
Schoeman started Sunday’s race in the coveted jersey, but faced a dilemma in the final stages as her teammate, De Groot went off on her own in an attempt to secure the victory.
De Groot attacked the lead group as they hit the final kilometre and put in a sizable gap, which she held until the finish, clocking 2hrs 36min 41sec for one of the biggest wins of her career.
The result suited Schoeman’s Nashua Telecoms team, but not Schoeman personally. Stenerhag won the bunch gallop for second place and the 40 points that go with it, while Schoeman’s seventh place netted her 15 points. Schoeman’s lead over Stenerhag at the start of the day was just five points, but the Swedish national champion turned that around into a 20-point lead with three events remaining.
The 11th round of the series is the AGA Cycle Challenge in Orkney, North West on Sunday, 8 November.
MTN OFM Classic, 97km
1 Jay Thomson (MTN Energade) 2hr 10min 16sec
2 Tyler Day (Team Matlosana)
3 Arran Brown (Medscheme)
4 Malcolm Lange (Medscheme)
5 Nolan Hoffman (Neotel)
6 Johann Rabie (Neotel)
7 Burry Stander (Specialized)
8 Dylan Girdlestone (Toyota Supercycling)
9 Luthando Kaka
10 Hanco Kachelhoffer (Medscheme)
1 Robyn de Groot (Nashua Telecoms) 02hr 36min 41sec
2 Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm)
3 Marissa van der Merwe (MTN Energade)
4 Cherise Taylor (MTN Energade)
5 Lynette Burger (Toyota Supercycling)
6 Yolandi du Toit (Konica Minolta)
7 Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms)
8 Isabel Moolman (Toyota Supercycling)
9 Jade Roberts (Nashua Telecoms)
10 Joanna van der Winkel (Toyota Supercycling)
Alpha Pharm Seeding Series
Leading rankings after 10 events:
1 Arran Brown (Medscheme) 250 points
2 Nolan Hoffman (Neotel) 190
3 James Ball (House of Paint) 167
4 Christoff van Heerden (MTN Energade) 165
5 Jay Thomson (MTN Energade) 162
6 Malcolm Lange (Medscheme) 155
7 Johann Rabie (Neotel) 145
8 Juan van Heerden (MTN Energade) 135
9 Dennis van Niekerk (Konica Minolta) 92
10 Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) 55
1 Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm) 355 points
2 Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms) 335
3 Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Supercycling) 255
4 Marissa van der Merwe (MTN Energade) 225
5 Robyn de Groot (Nashua Telecoms) 145
6 Jade Roberts (Nashua Telecoms) 127
7 Cherise Taylor (MTN Energade) 120
8 Yolandi du Toit (Konica Minolta) 110
9 Lynette Burger (Toyota Supercycling) 105
10 Lizanne Naude (Toyota Supercycling) 55