Cherise Willeit can't believe she won Cycle Tour title on comeback
Share this article:
Willeit, who only recently started training in earnest again, took the bunch sprint ahead of 2018 champion Kim le Court (Team Demacon MaxWax Racing) and Tiffany Keep (Titan).
In the men’s race, New Zealander Sam Gaze completed the double for Investec-Songo-Specialized by timing his sprint to perfection.
He denied Jason Oosthuizen (TEG Pro Racing) and Clint Hendricks (Pro Touch Continental) in a time of 2:39.42.
After a successful experiment last year, the elite and U23 women once again had their own start in Fish Hoek, and Willeit crossed the line in a time of 2:16.11, after a 78km race.
“I absolutely cannot believe it,” said an elated Willeit shortly after the finish. “It’s just such a special victory for me today, in front of my husband and kids.”
A strong south-easterly wind made for highly tactical racing from early on, and the mountain bikers took the fight to the more favoured road teams of Sandton City/Cycle Nation and Demacon MaxWax Racing.
Gaze and Dimension Data’s Stefan de Bod attempted to make a break from the group - which included last year’s champion Nolan Hoffman (Team Enza), Namibian journeyman pro Dan Craven, Dylan Girdlestone (OfficeGuru), Byron Munton (Alpha Bodyworks Giant), as well as Jayde Julius and Clint Hendricks - but they were unable to get away.
After beating Oosthuizen and Hendricks (Pro Touch Continental) to take the title of the world’s largest timed cycling race, Gaze said: “Clint is an incredibly fast sprinter and there were a few other fast boys in there, so to be able to pull it off was really good.”
Gaze - who finished runner-up last year - was part of a group of 10 riders who got away after Simon’s Town.
He called it an “honest race”, thanks to the prevailing Cape Doctor (south-easterly wind) and the depth of the racing field.
“The Dimension Data boys did the work out of Simon’s Town, and only about 10 riders could hang on with them,” he said, saying that Smitswinkel was once again a decisive climb in the race.
Gaze said he was proud to do the double for the songo.info charity.
“It feels incredible to win this with Songo on my back,” he said.