Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
1 minute read
6 Feb 2014
6:50 am

Triple champs in the saddle

Wesley Botton

All three titleholders in the elite division will defend their national crowns this week, as the country's most accomplished riders battle for top honours at the SA Road Cycling Championships, starting in Durban today.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio hopes to cement her place as South Africa’s top women’s rider, but she expects stiff opposition as she guns for a second successive double in the road race and time trial.

“The youngster, (18-year-old) Heidi Dalton, has a lot of potential and it’s her first year in the elite category, so it’ll be interesting to see where she’s at,” Moolman Pasio said yesterday.

“Lise Olivier and Cherise Stander are taking part, and Anriette Schoeman, who has won many titles, is also here, so it’s going to be tough.”

Moolman Pasio, who successfully defended her road race and time trial crowns at the African Championships in December, recently completed her first training camp with her new team, Norwegian trade outfit Hitec Products, in Benidorm, Spain.

“The SA champs is very early this year and my main focus is on the European circuit later in the season,” she said.

“But I’m feeling strong, and I’ve had good base training in preparation for this.”

Defending men’s road race champion Jay Thomson, who will lead UCI continental outfit MTN-Qhubeka, was also bracing for an onslaught from a quality line-up.

“I’m confident that I’ve done the training again and I will leave everything on the road,” he said.

Thomson expected World Championships silver medallist Daryl Impey, who wore the yellow jersey at last year’s Tour de France, to put up a strong fight.

“I can go into the race with great confidence,” Impey, above, said on his website.

“I’m looking forward to defending my time trial title.”