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Heidi Dalton raced across the finish line to take the Elite Women's and U23 Road Race victory at the 2017 SA Road Championships in Wellington on Saturday 11 February. Photo: Stuart Pickering/Cycling Direct.

The 127,8km course, which consisted of ten laps around the Lady Loch circuit through farmlands and vineyards, offered something new on each lap.

The first break attempt came from Sanet Coetsee, 19km into the race, but was quickly swallowed by the bunch. Michelle Benson then made an attack at 28km, in but was soon also caught.

The real fighting began 49km into the race, where Demacon’s Elmarie de Wet kept her breakaway (often over two minutes ahead) for close to 40km.

The next 15km displayed aggressive riding and attacks from Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and An-Li Kachelhoffer, and soon, there was a lead bunch of eight riders, which included Dalton, Yzette Oelofse, Juanita Venter, Chane Jonker and Samantha Sanders.

More attacks by Moolman-Pasio and Kachelhoffer were seen, but soon both riders were back in the bunch.

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The Elite Women's and U23 Road Race took place in the stunning setting of Wellington at the 2017 SA Road Championships on Saturday 11 February. Photo: Stuart Pickering/Cycling Direct

At the start of the last lap, Dalton broke off the leading group to ride solo and open up a gap. Her time gaps began to grow from 37 seconds, to 47 seconds, and before long, close to two minutes ahead, and rode to victory over the line in a time of three hours, 43 minutes and 37.572 seconds.

On her victory, Dalton said: “Today was absolutely awesome, I mean, I’m still under 23 so the main goal was to get the under 23 jersey, but to get both of them is just absolutely incredible. I’m really, really over the moon. I gave it everything I had and I’m really enjoying this moment.”

Dalton spoke of teammate Elmarie de Wet who worked hard for the team as well. “She went up the road for a couple of laps and we sat on and relaxed little bit while she gave it her all” said Dalton.

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Elmari de Wet worked out in front for 40km in the Elite Women's and U23 Road Race at the 2017 SA Road Championships in Wellington on Saturday 11 February. Photo: Stuart Pickering/Cycling Direct.

“My other teammate Carla (Oberholzer) covered a lot of moves out there as well. My team manager, Dave, has been absolutely incredible and been with me forever, so it was really just a team effort today and I’m super chuffed to be the SA Champ,” she added.

Second position in the Elite Women’s race went to An-Li Kachelhoffer (Bestmed ASG), with Time Trial Champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Cervelo Bigla) crossing the line in third.

Michelle Benson won the silver medal in the U23 Women’s Road Race. “Today was hot, and very hard,” she said. Benson added that after she had seen Dalton had a chance of the win, she tried her best to stick as hard as could in order to get the second spot on the podium.

In the U19 Women’s race, Ashley Parsons, who had arrived from Egypt just one day prior to her race, claimed the gold medal, with Tiffany Keep coming in behind in second place, and Elne Owen in third.

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Ashleigh Parsons took the U19 Women's win at the 2017 SA Road Championships in Wellington on Saturday 11 February. Photo: Stuart Pickering/Cycling DIrect.

When asked about how she pulled it all off, Parsons said: “I had yesterday afternoon to gather my things. I think for me it was important to keep myself together mentally – especially knowing that I had to fly for 12 hours and then race the next day.”

Parsons spoke about her recent participation in the World Cycling Centre training camp in Egypt and said: “Personally I think it was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. It was a big jump for me to miss school, but I gained a lot of experience and the training was very hard. It obviously helped a lot because, here we are today.”

Second placed Tiffany Keep, who grabbed the Time Trial gold said she was very nervous coming into the race. “Some of the girls in the race today didn’t race in the Time Trial so I didn’t know where they were in terms of form. It started off at a great pace and there were a few attempts at breakaways and attacks. Nobody managed to get away because of the headwind.

“I tried so hard to pull away when it came to two kilometres to go, but we all were in sprint mode by then. I ended up coming next to Ashley Parsons, and ended up finishing about a wheel length behind her. I’m happy for her, though – she raced so well in the end. All the other girls did really out there today.”

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The Elite Women's podium (from left to right) Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (third) Heidi Dalton (first) and An-Li Kachelhoffer (third) at the 2017 SA Road Championships in Wellington on Saturday 11 February. Photo: Stuart Pickering/Cycling Direct.

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The U23 Women's Road Race Podium (from left to right) Bianca Haw (third) Heidi Dalton (first) and Michelle Benson (third) at the 2017 SA Road Championships in Wellington on Saturday 11 February. Photo: Stuart Pickering/Cycling Direct.

Follow the racing action live by live timing on the Mobii APP (http://www.mobii.com/app) available on Android and iOS devices in the relevant APP stores. Search for “Mobii Race Results”.

Click here to view your finish line photo and results on Mobii: http://mobii.com/sarc2017/

For more information about the SA National Road Champs and full race results, click here: https://www.cyclingsa.com/2017-sa-road-champs/