There was a bittersweet taste to Maroesjka Matthee’s gold medal ride in the women’s road race on Wednesday after the news that teammate Zanri Rossouw was in hospital following a bad fall outside Casablanca.
Rossouw, a member of the quartet who had taken the gold medal in the women’s team time trial on Saturday, suffered a badly damaged left shoulder and was still in a world of pain hours after Matthee had crossed the line first in a sprint finish after 65km of riding. Ironically, Matthee had been the rider to fall off the searing pace in the team time-trial event.
‘I’m really excited and happy to have won, of course and I have to say thank you to the team as well,’ Matthee said.
‘Jo [van de Winkel] was really good in the breakaway. We had numbers – four riders, Matthee, Rossouw, Van de Winkel and individual time-trial gold medallist Ashleigh Pasio represented Team SA – and we raced from the gun. Obviously the crash was really unfortunate, but I knew that if we could stay in the breakaway bunch then we’d have a real opportunity in the sprint finish.
‘I knew that I had to keep my cool and stay calm and also be able to go with the right wheel in the sprint. I’m really happy that it turned out that way and I managed to go with the right wheel,’ the 30-year-old new African Games champion said.
Van de Winkel managed to stay in the final breakaway bunch of nine, all of whom were credited with the same time as the winner (1hr 45min 15sec).
Incredibly, it was cycling’s sixth gold medal (along with two silvers) from as many events at these Games. Tiffany Keep had started the gold rush with victory in the women’s mountain biking cross-country, before the men’s and women’s teams won the time trials. Ryan Gibbons and Pasio then won the individual time trials and now Matthee has claimed the women’s road race crown.
Afterwards Pasio tweeted: ‘Eventful trip to Morocco with @TeamSA19. Happy to win gold in ITT. Congrats to teamie @maroesjka555 for the RR win! UNfortunately crash and damaged bike took me out of the race. Speedy recovery to @ZanriRos & all other crash victims … thankfully I’m fine.’