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Taylor takes title

After an illness-hampered 2009, Cherise Taylor (Nashua Telecoms) celebrated her return to good health by winning the Elite women’s title at the 2010 South African Road Cycling Championships in Klerksdorp on Friday.

The 20-year-old Taylor won a bunch sprint at the end of the 102km women’s road race to reclaim the coveted title that she first won in 2008. Anriette Schoeman (Biogen Toyota) finished second with Swedish national champion, Jennie Stenerhag (Alpha Pharm), rounding out the top three. Carla Swart (MTN Energade), crossed the finish line in fourth, but claimed the bronze medal as the third South African to finish.

ÔÇ£It feels great to win another South African title,ÔÇØ smiled Taylor afterwards. ÔÇ£What makes it more special is that we have a small team with mostly up-and-coming riders. We really did succeed in beating the odds today. I’d like to thank our sponsors for believing in us!ÔÇØ

The nine-lap race took place in hot, breezy conditions and became a tactical battle between the major teams ÔÇô MTN Energade, Nashua Telecoms, Bizhub and Biogen Toyota.

With 11 riders in the field, MTN Energade dictated the early pace and then on the fourth lap a crash left defending champion, Lynette Burger (Biogen Toyota) with facial injuries, forcing her to retire. Her teammate and multiple former national champion, Schoeman, also went down in the crash, but managed to rejoin the race. Two laps later the in-form pre-race favourite, Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Biogen Toyota), also crashed and retired, leaving the race relatively wide open.

On the penultimate lap, Taylor joined a three-rider attack with MTN Energade’s Danish rider, Trine Schmidt and Robyn de Groot. But the trio was caught on the final lap, setting up the race for a bunch sprint finish.

ÔÇ£I didn’t have any teammates left up front in the latter part of the race, so I just followed every move I could. It was really tough going. There was a lot of hunger for success out there today. I wasn’t too worried about getting caught by the bunch on the last lap because I’m in good form and knew I’d have a chance of winning if it came to a sprint.

ÔÇ£I positioned myself on Anriette’s wheel in the final straight and timed my final kick to perfection!ÔÇØ beamed Taylor.

Taylor’s racing pedigree first became widely known in 2007 when she won the silver medal at the Junior World Road Race Championships in Mexico. In 2008, her first year out of the Junior ranks, aged 18, she became the youngest ever winner of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour and then went on to win her first Elite South African Road Race title.