Claude Eksteen and Kate Roberts were in a class of their own in hot conditions at the 2009 Africa Cup triathlon in Pretoria at the weekend.
Eksteen had been battling a virus for some time now and showed just how good he is when fully fit. Coming out of the water in the third group behind young Henri Schoeman (17min 22sec for 1,500 metres) and Erhardt Wolfaardt (18:22 for 1500m) with Christopher Fellgate, Hendrik De Villiers and Wikus Weber (19:00 ÔÇô 19:05 for 1500m swim), the 30-year old started to make up ground on the 40km bike leg.
Five laps of 8km around the Pretoria West Power Station with a vicious climb midway through the lap suited the KwaZulu-Natal based athlete to perfection. Henri Schoeman’s one minute lead over Erhardt Wolfaardt had whittled down to 13sec at the start of the second lap on the cycle leg, with Eksteen reducing his deficit over Wolfaardt from 45sec to 26sec.
When Wolfaardt caught Schoeman on the second lap, they started to work together and were able to open two seconds on Eksteen for a 28sec lead going into the third lap. But Eksteen’s experience and tenacity came through on the fourth lap. Wolfaardt had dropped Schoeman on the third lap and at the start of the fourth lap was 34sec up on Eksteen. At this point Eksteen put his head down and caught Wolfaardt just before the start of the fifth and final lap, making up 34sec in 8km! Eksteen and Wolfaardt rode the final lap together.
The duo had by this time a three minute gap over the chasing Hendrik De Villiers, Wikus Weber and Chris Fellgate. The second group being hauled in at a rapid rate by duathlon specialist Michael Davidson.
On the 10km run, Eksteen put the hammer down and gradually moved away from a visibly tiring Wolfaardt. At the start of the second lap of the run, Wolfaardt slipped on the carpet laid on the grass and was slow in getting up, showing his fatigue. From there it was one-way traffic all the way as Eksteen continued to move away from Wolfaardt to cover the 10km in 35:58 for a final time of 2:03:56.
ÔÇ£It was hard, it was hot and the climb in the middle of the cycle leg gave a lot of riders a hard time. I’m happy though that I am back and am over my virus. Now its back to hard training,ÔÇØ said Eksteen after the race.
Second went to Wolfaardt (2:05:29) with Hendrik De Villiers rounding out the top three and continuing his comeback with a time of 2:07:47.
In the women’s race it was Kate Roberts who led from start to finish. ÔÇ£I knew I needed a big gap going into the bike and then I needed to take the first two laps easy and let the rest of the field chase. That climb in the middle of the cycle leg had a real sting in it and we needed to start conservatively. But if you are chasing, you can’t really go conservatively and that’s what played into my hands,ÔÇØ said Roberts after crossing the line in 2:20:35.
Roberts was out of the water first covering the two laps of 750m each (the swim is 1,500m) in 20:27 with team mate Vicky van der Merwe second 42sec back and young Carlyn Fisher (competing for the first time as an elite) five seconds behind her. The chasing pack of Riana De Lange, Lauren Dance, Carla Germishuys and Andrea Steyn were just under 2min behind race leader Roberts.
Roberts started the cycle leg conservatively but was able to open five seconds on Fisher who had passed Van der Merwe at the start of the second lap of the cycle route. Working together, Steyn and Germishuys were still two minutes down on Roberts.
By the start of lap three of the five-lap curcuit, Steyn was riding with Fisher and was now only┬á 1:03 behind Roberts, but that monstrous effort could well have cost her as by the start of lap four, Roberts had opened a 2:34 gap over Steyn and at the start of the final lap that gap had opened to 3min17sec. There was no way she was going to be able to pull that margin back over the final 10km run.
In fact so much had Steyn put in to try and catch Roberts on the cycle, that she had nothing left on the run and Roberts was able to open a further three minutes over her.
Roberts won in 2:20:35 with Steyn crossing the line in 2:28:16 and Carla Germishuys rounding out the top three with a time of 2:31:06. Carlyn Fisher in her first outing in the elite category finished a creditable 4th (2:31:49)
Men┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á Swim┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á Bike ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á Run┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á Overall
1 Claude Eksteen┬á┬á┬á┬á 19min 05sec ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á 1:07:16 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á 35:58 ┬á┬á┬á 2:03:56
2 Erhard Wolfaardt┬á┬á 18:22┬á┬á┬á 1:07:59┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á 37:30┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á┬á 2:05:29
3 Hendrik De Villiers 19:00┬á┬á┬á 1:11:30 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á 35:39 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á 2:07:47
Women┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á Swim┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á Bike ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á Run┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á Overall
1 Kate Roberts┬á┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á 20:27┬á┬á 1:17:41 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á 40:41 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á 2:20:35
2 Andrea Steyn ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á 22:26┬á┬á 1:19:56 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á 44:09 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á 2:28:16
3 Carla Germishuys┬á 22:26 ┬á┬á┬á 1:22:40 ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á 44:16┬á┬á ┬á┬á┬á ┬á┬á 2:31:06