After a string of second place finishes in major events over the past few years, Lynette Burger snapped up the biggest win of her career when she won the Elite women’s race at the South African road cycling championships in Oudtshoorn on Tuesday.
It was a double celebration for Burger’s Cycle Lab Supercycling Toyota team as her teammate, Ashleigh Moolman, the Western Province road champion, secured the silver medal with 2008 champion, Cherise Taylor (MTN) taking third place.
It was just reward for the 27-year-old rider from Boksburg, who has won silver and bronze medals at the national time trial championships before, but has never finished on the podium in the higher-profile road race.
But all that changed on Tuesday when she stood on the top step of the podium to receive her gold medal and national champions jersey, two highly coveted rewards for a hard day’s toil and months of meticulous preparation.
‘I still can’t believe it! I think it will only sink in later,’ said a delighted Burger. ‘I set myself a goal in November last year to win this title and today it’s happened. It’s an incredible feeling to achieve a goal like that, but I must thank my team; without them I wouldn’t have been in a position to win.’
Two major factors influenced the pattern of the 117km race, which took in three laps of a 39km circuit around the desolate Karoo town ÔÇô an early crash and the searing heat.
The crash at around 25km took down some of the pre-race favourites, including Anriette Schoeman (Nashua Telecoms) and Lizanne Naude (Cycle Lab Supercycling Toyota), while temperatures of more than 40 degrees Celsius, turned the race into a battle of attrition as riders were forced to constantly hydrate and keep their core temperature down by dousing themselves with water.
The lead group was eventually whittled down to eight going into the final kilometres, with Yolandi de Villiers (Cycle Lab Supercycling Toyota) attacking constantly and forcing the three MTN riders, Marissa van der Merwe, Cashandra Slingerland and Taylor, the two Nashua Telecoms riders, Robyn de Groot and Jade Roberts and DCM Chrome’s Yolandi du Toit to respond.
Van der Merwe led Taylor and Burger into the final turn 350m from the finish.
‘I was in the perfect position for the sprint as the two MTN girls started their sprint quite early. I began my kick with about 200 metres to go and it turned out to be perfectly timed!ÔÇØ smiled Burger.
2009 South African Road Race Championships
10 March, Oudtshoorn┬á
Elite Women ÔÇô 117km (Leading results)
1 Lynette Burger ÔÇô Cycle Lab Supercycling Toyota 03hr25min07sec
2 Ashleigh Moolman ÔÇô Cycle Lab Supercycling Toyota
3 Cherise Taylor ÔÇô MTN
4 Robyn de Groot ÔÇô Nashua Telecoms
5 Jade Roberts ÔÇô Nashua Telecoms
6 Marissa van der Merwe ÔÇô MTN
7 Yolande du Toit ÔÇô DCM Chrome
8 Yolande de Villiers ÔÇô Cycle Lab Supercycling Toyota
9 Cashandra Slingerland ÔÇô MTN
10 An-Li Pretorius Nashua Telecoms