Wesley Botton
Chief sports writer
2 minute read
9 Feb 2016
4:19 pm

Elite riders gear up for Road Champs

Wesley Botton

The country's top men will battle it out in a wide-open contest.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio.

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has been tipped to continue her dominance at the national showpiece when the SA Road Cycling Championships gets underway in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Facing a quality field, Jacques Janse van Rensburg said he was ready to defend the road race title he won in Nelspruit last year, with the support of his Dimension-Data teammates.

“I will definitely be giving my best to defend the jersey. As long as the jersey stays in the team we will be very happy,” Janse van Rensburg said ahead of the five-day championships.

He was expected to face strong challenges from accomplished compatriots Louis Meintjes and Daryl Impey. After winning the SA title two years ago, Meintjes ended ninth in the national road race last season, though he went on to win the African title the following week.

The former Under-23 World Championships silver medallist displayed fine form last month by finishing 16th in the general classification at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide.
Despite being without his Lampre-Merida teammates for this week’s coastal race, he was confident he could put up a fight.

“This time out I will be on my own so I will learn and adapt, and see how things play out. SA champs is always such a lottery,” Meintjes said on his website.

Impey, meanwhile, played a key role in assisting Orica-GreenEdge teammate Simon Gerrans to victory at the Tour Down Under, and having finished second in the national road race for the last two years in a row, he was expected to be in contention once again. He was also set to target his fifth career SA title (and his fourth in a row) in the individual time trial.

In the women’s division, Moolman-Pasio was due to line up as the firm favourite, searching for her fifth national road race title and her fourth time trial crown. Her strongest challenges were expected to come from An-Li Kachelhoffer and Lynette Burger, last year’s silver and bronze road race medallists, as well as Heidi Dalton.

“The competition will be significantly higher this year than what we have seen over the past few years, which will surely make this an exciting race to follow,” said Lise Olivier, elite rider and director of the Cycling SA women’s commission.

“As in previous years, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio should be the hot favourite for the road race and the time trial but I do believe the competition will be considerably higher.” In the SA Para-Cycling Championships, to be held alongside the able-bodied event, the entry list included multiple world champions Ernst van Dyk, Pieter du Preez and Justine Asher.