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As with the African Continental Championships, the Elite and under-23 Men started the 180km race together, and the first rider to cross the finish line was dubbed the Elite winner. In this instance, Meintjes is the new under-23 and Elite National Champion.

Meintjes clinched the victory on the finish line in a stroke of fortune. Newly crowned Time Trial National Champion Daryl Impey (Orica GreenEdge), who was out to claim “the double”, looked set to win when disaster struck and his chain broke in the final 15-metres before the finish line. Impey freewheeled helplessly across the line.

Defending champion Jay Thomson (Team MTN-Qhubeka) claimed the bronze medal.

Meintjes was elated with his performance: “I’m really happy and I’m looking forward to wearing the national jersey overseas. I had a very strong team and every time there was a break we were represented with a strong team member, so we were always in control. I’m not at top form at the moment, but I am really surprised and really happy with the form I had today.

“We had a lot of plans and the guys understand racing and in every situation there is a different plan. But Jay (Thomson) and I spoke in the last few kilometres and he said I looked really good on the last little climb so we decided to change the plan.”

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Impey was visibly disappointed with his mechanical failure after a strong day in the saddle and an almost certain victory: “My chain came off in the sprint and I’m pretty disappointed. I had it in the bag, and it is really disappointing.”

The women’s race saw Moolman-Pasio claim the victory after a calculated race with several attacks on the strong field. Cherise Stander crossed the line second, and 18-year-old Heidi Dalton finished third.

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“I tried to test everyone’s legs at every opportunity that I could,” said Moolman-Pasio. “I was the only one making the racing today, so I’m really happy that I managed to pull it off as an alone rider. It was a tough job. I just can’t tell you how happy I am – taking the jersey to Europe is such a privilege and such an honour, I’ll really fly the flag very high there.”

Moolman-Pasio bided her time before launching the successful break in the final lap. “I didn't want to go too early – it is a tough course and with the humidity I was feeling the cramps coming on so I had to be careful. After halfway, wherever the road wet up I tried to make it hard for the girls and coming into the start of the final lap, the string finally snapped and no-one was behind me, so I drove it as hard as I could until the end.”

Silver medallist, Stander was pleased with her second place: “It was quite an aggressive race and everyone was just watching Ashleigh (Moolman-Pasio) today. The route was quite hard and it was important not to start off hard, and to race within your limits.”

Young Dalton delivered a strong performance in her first year in the Elite category, coming from Junior last year. “I’m racing with the best women in the country, and the world,” said Dalton. “It was a hard race today but well done to Ashleigh and Cherise. I knew it was going to be tough, it’s my first year Elite and I was battling in the first three or four laps, but then I just felt I was getting stronger, which is strange because I am still young. I’m over the moon with my third place.”

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Women’s cycling legend and eight-time National Champion, Anriette Schoeman finished in sixth place: “It was a very tough race, the girls all brought their A-game! This course wears you down quite a bit, but it was a privilege for me to race with the elite ladies. Hats off to Time Freight for investing sponsorship into cycling, and to Cycling South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal Cycling for probably one of the best National Championships I’ve ridden.”

All photos: Mylene Paynter

Full race results for each category are available here.