By Mark Etheridge
The time trials done and dusted, South Africa’s top road cyclists now saddle up for the road races at the UCI World Road Championships currently underway in Copenhagen, Denmark.
To date Louis Meintjies and Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio have fared best, the former placing 18th in the Under-23 time trial and the latter finished 30th in the elite women’s event.
Left to race are the three road races, the men’s Under-23, Junior Men and Elite Women.
First up are the Under-23 and Junior Men’s races, scheduled for Friday and Saturday morning respectively while the elite women’s race will be raced on Saturday afternoon.
Five racers will represent the green and gold in the Under-23 race, Meintjies being joined by Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, Christopher Jennings and Raynard Butler. Says Cycling SA’s road manager Barry Austin: “We’re looking at breaking into the top 20 with one of our riders as part of our 2016 plan. The team has to function as one and all will be assisting in achieving these goals I’m satisfied with this bunch and happy we’re still on track for 2016.”
The Junior Men’s race only has one SA competitor in Jayde Julius. “He’s on his own and the nature of the course is one of team-work so he’ll have to be lucky along with being smart and strong. But it’s a good learning school to make an all-out assault on the Nations Cups and Worlds next year,” reckons Austin.
The championships end, for South Africa anyway, with the women’s road race and our women will be looking for a top 10 finish here. Moolman-Pasio will be joined by Cherise Taylor, Robyn de Groot and Joanna van de Winkel. “Choosing the right fight to fight in the race is the most important lesson to be learnt for our women,” says Austin.
“This is the stepping stone to our London Olympics preparation and the start of our team building to gather the all-important UCI points towards qualifying more women for the Olympics and having a strong team and support there.”