Sweltering Cycle Tour a success
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It was a day of broken bikes and broken hearts for the pro cyclists, but for the other tens of thousands of cyclists, riding through the extreme temperatures was the biggest hurdle in the 2012 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.
Medical tents were packed all the way along the 110km route, treating headaches, heat stroke, nausea and cramps, all related to the extreme temperatures.
“Like riding around inside a giant pizza oven!” Justin Robert of Plumstead probably spoke for thousands, when he described Sunday’s heat.
“Being out there on Chapman’s Peak in that heat was tortuous,” reported Dave Bellairs. “As a result, we enforced the cut-offs very strictly, and ‘swept’ a lot more people off the route than last year.”
This was only the second year cyclists were forbidden from continuing if they didn’t make certain cut-off points by certain times.
Doctor Darren Green said as the day progressed, there was a “massive” effect on the performance of riders compared to those who cycled earlier in the morning.
“We were putting up drips like it was going out of fashion and dishing out Rehydrate sachets.”
Early on Sunday, as the women pro riders sprinted to the end, an collision occurred about 100m from the finish line.
Cyclist Marissa Stander, 33, said they were a big bunch at the finish line, “which always makes it dangerous”.
“Everyone is always eager to sprint to the finish line. I was close to the front and Cherise Taylor (last year’s ladies winner) was cycling in front of me when she went down and then I fell.”
Stander walked away with a bandaged chin and stitches to her finger.
Taylor was one of the last cyclists to clear the crash.
She was determined to finish on her bicycle, choosing to cross the finish line on two wheels instead of two feet. Her coach held her steady while she rode on her broken bicycle. With about 100m to go before the finish line, the group opened up.
One of the injured, Warren Scott who was riding for team Aurecon, was in front with all the top ladies for the final sprint.
Scott had several grazes and bruises, and bandages, a torn cycling vest while his bike’s frame cracked, his wheels were bent and he had blood on his seat.
“I was hit so many times.”
Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (ladies winner) escaped the pile-up racing across the finish in two hours, 52 minutes and 24 seconds.
A brisk start in the men’s “Elite” group saw Reinardt Janse van Rensburg steal first place for this year’s Cycle Tour amid great fanfare.
Bellairs said of the 1 000 people treated, 100 were taken to hospital, of which 29 were considered “high priority” patients.
The “most serious” medical cases were two heart attacks and subdural hematoma.
Several cyclists received IV treatments throughout the day, and the sweep buses were busy picking up riders who were unable to continue in the extreme heat. Riders were showing signs of exhaustion on the route, taking breaks in any shade they could find.
By 2pm, temperatures peaked at 41°C at the finish line.
Even with the heat, spectators showed appreciation for the riders who flocked to the city – young and old supported the race while trying to stay cool. Troops of baboons also headed to the sidelines, watching riders with extreme curiosity. – Cape Argus