The ladies started the 110km tour with the Elite Pro men in freezing conditions. More than 6000 cyclists in total entered for this prestigious annual event. The new road race route, which included the long climbs up to the towns of Karatara and Barrington, turned out to be a shocker for most participants as it is definitely one of the toughest one- day races in South Africa. With the pro men making the pace extremely fast from the go, the women were forced to hang on for dear life.
The Leading Ladies
Lisa Olivier (Velolife-Time Freight) was leading the ladies’ race after the first big climb, closely followed by Anriette Schoeman (Africa Silks/Bestmed), Carmen Buchacher from Germany and junior, Monique Gerber (Bestmed) with Velolife junior ladies, Bianca Haw, Frankie du Toit, Kim Le Court and Amy Williams losing contact with the leading bunch on the 5 km climb just outside Knysna.
Bianca Haw (Velolife-Time Freight) managed to catch up to the leading women just outside the town of Sedgefield when she crossed over with the second bunch on the road. Schoeman took the Hotspot just before the Karatara climb. On the long and steep climb up to Karatara Lise Olivier opened up a gap on the pursuing women with Anriette Schoeman following closely behind Lisa at the summit. Lisa was looking exceptionally strong at this point and with two more big climbs to come it seemed that she had Anriette under pressure.
Queen of the Mountains
On the longest climb of the day, heading up to the town of Barrington, Lisa launched several attacks in an attempt to drop Anriette but it seemed like Anriette was starting to find her rhythm on this tough climb and Lisa could not get rid of Anriette who counter attacked to take the Queen of the Mountains prime. At this stage, Anriette and Lise surprised when they went over the summit with the top professional men in the main bunch. Fourth of the ladies over the climb were Monique Gerber and Carmen Buchacher with Bianca Haw now battling on the long climbs and losing contact with Monique and Carmen.
The tough Karatara climb and QOM took its toll on Anriette and Lise who lost contact with the main bunch to form part of the third bunch on the road with 10 men. With 30 km to go we had Anriette Schoeman and Lise Olivier leading the ladies race followed by Monique Gerber and Carmen Buchacher.
Close battle for first place
Lise Olivier launched a huge attack on the last climb, 10 km from Knysna. Only Schoeman could stay with her as the men were left behind. The moment that Schoeman caught her she counter attacked immediately again with Schoeman following closely as they went over the summit. Lise lead out the sprint to the finish with Schoeman tight on her wheel. With 150 m to go, Schoeman passed Olivier to take 1st place with Olivier 2nd and Buchacher 3rd, just outsprinting SA top Junior Lady, Monique Gerber, who took 4thplace.
Junior Continental Road Race Champion, Monique Gerber (Team Bestmed ASG), proved her metal on the mountains of the Knysna Cycle Tour. South Africa's top junior women did battle for the first time since the national road race champs that were held in February. Monique dominated the junior women’s race from the start and eventually finished 12 minutes ahead of second placed junior, Bianca Haw (Velolife/ Time Freight), followed by Frankie du Toit, Kim Le Court and Amy Williams.
Allison Hertel was the 1st Vets Lady to finish the race in 3:19:03.
Anriette praised Lise on her excellent climbing ability and said that she was looking forward to the Common Wealth Games with riders like Lise Olivier, Ashleigh Pasio-Moolman, Cherise Taylor, Anli Kachelhoffer and Heidi Dalton in the National Team.
1st Anriette Schoeman 3:02:43
2nd Lise Olivier 3:02:43
3rd Carmen Buchacher 3:08:21
4th Monique Gerber 3:08:21
5th Allison Hertel 3:19:03
6th Bianca Haw 3:20:12