Team South Africa returned home triumphant after dominating at the 2021 African Continental Road Championships in Cairo, winning 13 gold medals, three silvers and one bronze.
Ryan Gibbons won the men’s elite road race and Carla Oberholzer won the elite women’s road race, but there were heroes dotted throughout the squad.
The wind had picked up on the circuit by the time the men started the elite men’s road race and the pace was on from the gun. Team SA was well represented in an early break of four. Clint contributed in the work to open the gap to the peloton to just over two minutes, which resulted in Algeria being under pressure to bring the break back.
With the gap down to one minute, Team SA launched an attack which resulted in Kent Main, Travis Barrett (U23) and SA National Road Champion Gibbons joining the front group that was now up to eleven.
‘There were still three dangerous riders from and riders in the break. With the gap at two minutes, we had ProTouch’s Gustav Basson and Rohan du Plooy ride across to the front bunch, which gave us the numerical advantage which we would use to our advantage. We put in numerous attacks at our planned point on the route with Rohan, Gustav and Clint sacrificing their chances for the bigger picture. Travis Stedman was riding for the U23 win but, even he put in huge efforts as the Elite gold was the main priority,’ said team manager Tony Harding..
Team SA eventually got the lead group down to five riders – including Main and Gibbons, who got away on the last lap, where he used the cross wind to perfection.
Team SA’s women rode the race 100 percent according to plan and it was not long before the plan played out. Carla Oberholzer, Frances Janse Van Rensburg (U23) and Hayley Preen featured in a four-rider breakaway and they were opening the gap on the chasing peloton. ‘On our route recon, we had decided where our big attack would happen and with two laps to go the ladies implemented this to perfection, as Carla rode away,’ said Harding.
‘The instruction to Hayley and Frances was to sit on Vera Looser’s (Namibia) wheel until we had a big enough gap. With the gap at two minutes, our two ladies were allowed to roll through with Vera. We would put in a few more attacks, that eventually succeeded when we got Hayley away on her own. Frances was the leading U23 lady in the race, so when Vera opened a gap on her it was not the end of the world as she would still go on to claim the U23 Gold Medal, Hayley taking silver and Carla taking the gold.’
Gold medals: Elite Mens Road Race, U23 Mens Road Race, Elite Ladies Road Race, U23 Ladies Road Race, Elite Ladies Individual Time Trial, U23 Ladies Individual Time Trial, Elite Mens Individual Time Trial, Elite Mens Team Time Trial, Elite Ladies Team Time Trial, Mixed Team Time Trial, Junior Ladies Road Race, Junior Ladies Individual Time Trial, Junior Men Individual Time Trial
Silver medals: Elite Ladies Road Race, Elite Mens Individual Time Trial, Elite Ladies Individual Time Trial
Bronze medal: Junior Men Individual Time Trial
845 points for South Africa in the Mens Elite/U23
793.34 points for South Africa in the Ladies Elite/U23
328.32 points for ProTouch Continental Cycling – Africa’s number one UCI-ranked Team
Ryan Gibbons (Elite Mens Road Race, gold, Mens Elite Individual Time Trial, gold)
Travis Barrett (U23 Mens Road Race, gold)
Kent Main (Mens Elite Individual Time Trial, silver)
Pedri Crause (Junior Men Individual Time Trial, gold)
Justin Chesterton (Junior Men Individual Time Trial, bronze)
Carla Oberholzer (Elite Ladies Road Race, gold, Elite Ladies Individual Time Trial, gold)
Hayley Preen (Elite Ladies Road Race, silver)
Frances Janse Van Rensburg (Elite Ladies Individual Time Trial, silver., U23 Ladies Individual Time Trial, silver)
Chante Olivier (Junior Ladies Road Race, gold, Junior Ladies Individual Time Trial, gold)
Elite Mens Team Time Trial, gold (Ryan Gibbons, Kent Main, Gustav Basson)
Elite Ladies Team Time Trial, gold (Carla Oberholzer, Hayley Preen, Frances Janse van Rensburg)
Mixed Team Time Trial, gold (Carla Oberholzer, Frances Janse Van Rensburg, Hayley Preen, Ryan Gibbons, Kent Main, Gustav Basson, gold)