Bestmed-ASG junior cyclists (from left) Michelle Benson, Catherine Colyn and Monique Gerber will represent the future of South African women’s cycling at the UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain, from September 21 to 28. // Photo: Gerda Benson. Gerber and fellow Bestmed-ASG teammates Catherine Colyn and Michelle Benson will make up the junior female component of the national team, which was announced by Cycling South Africa on Friday. Team manager Owen Botha was pleased by the inclusion of his charges and he was hopeful that they would become the core of the senior women’s team in years to come. “Our aim is to develop internationally competitive female riders, and specifically for the Commonwealth (2018) and Olympic Games (2020).” Gerber, from Port Elizabeth, has just returned from the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Korea where she focused on the individual pursuit and scratch races. Botha said only Gerber and Benson would participate in the 14km individual time-trial in Spain, which would be the latter’s main goal. According to him, all three riders were entered for the 72.8km road race, which featured two telling ascents on each lap for a total of 1 224 metres of climbing. “Catherine can climb very well, so the course should suit her,” said Botha. The fast and technical nature of the closing kilometres could however favour a rider like Gerber if the racing stayed close, said Botha. “If she hangs on she has a very good chance of victory.” African junior road champion Monique Gerber (Bestmed-ASG) will spearhead the South African junior women’s attack at the UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain, from September 21 to 28. // Photo: Gerda Benson. He said all three had been performing at a consistently high level since the start of the season. In February, Benson and Gerber grabbed gold and silver respectively in the individual time-trial at the national champs. Gerber also claimed the runner-up spot in the road race to add to second place finishes in The Herald VW Cycle Tour and Tour Durban national classics. Benson, who hails from Pretoria, won gold in the time-trial at the African Youth Games in Botswana in May. Capetonian Colyn showed her liking for tours by notching up junior victories at the Trac N4 Tour (March), Bestmed Jock Cycle Classique (July) and Lowveld Tour (August).
Port Elizabeth cyclist Monique Gerber, who rides locally for Bestmed-Shukuma Madibaz, will represent South Africa at the UCI Juniors Track World Championships in Korea in August. // Photo: Supplied.
Gerber, who races locally for the Bestmed-Shukuma Madibaz club, said she was excited at being given the opportunity to race against the best junior women in the world. It will be the 18-year-old’s first outing at the event after illness and lack of early season form put paid to her selection last year. She returned to her best this season to win all her events at the national track championships in April, after finishing runner-up at the 110km Tour Durban the day before the competition started. The African junior road race champion said her track selection had come as quite a surprise as her focus had been on preparing for the road equivalent, which takes places in Spain in September. “I’ve had a very good season on the road and finished on the podium in a number of national classics against the elite ladies,” said Gerber, who also rides in the colours of pro team Bestmed-ASG. Although the road team has yet to be announced, she said as reigning continental champion she was hopeful of her inclusion. “I’ve been spending most of my time training in the mountains, so I only started doing speed work on the track a week or two ago. “It’s been tough getting used to the high speed again but I’m feeling more comfortable every day.” Gerber said she would use her road training to her advantage by concentrating on the longer track events. She will participate in the 7.5km scratch race, 2km individual pursuit and the 20km points race. “The pursuit has become a very specialised event. I set world-class times as an under-14 and under-16 rider but I haven’t focused on it this year, so my best chance of a medal will be in the points race, where I believe my road endurance will help a lot.” While she does have the SA pursuit record in her sights, she said it was difficult to gauge her current levels of performance against those of her international peers. “I broke it while competing in Australia. The wood surfaces there are so much faster than the concrete in South Africa, so it’s very difficult to measure your performance based on times set here at home.” Gerber comes from a cycling-mad family, who relocated briefly Down Under to allow her to gain international racing experience. “There I trained with 2008 Olympic road race champion Nicole Cook and many other track world champions. I won many criterium races and on the track I won two silver medals at the Western Australia state championships.” She and sister Anja, who also races professionally, are now both home-schooled to allow them the flexibility to balance their academic and riding schedules. Their mother is in charge of their education, while father Frans, who has a degree in sport science, does duty as coach. “So our school books often travel along when we go away to races.” Gerber plans to study education at NMMU from next year. Her Madibaz teammate Francois Geldenhuys will also do the university proud when he competes in the UCI World Cycling Tour Finals, which start in Slovenia at the end of August. Geldenhuys qualified for a spot at the prestigious event when he won both the time trial and road race in the 30-34 age category at last year’s Msunduzi Road Challenge. Visit www.sport.nmmu.ac.za or find Madibaz4U on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo Credit: Raymond Cox
Moolman-Pasio, who represents Momentum Toyota Cycling Team in South Africa and races for the Lotto Belisol Ladies team whilst in Europe, added the continental title to her list of accolades this year in the 93km 63km race. The finish was close with Moolman-Pasio, Vera Adrian from Namibia (silver), and Wehazit Kidane from Eritrea (bronze) all recording the same finish time of 1 hour 53 minutes 24 seconds. An-Li Kachelhoffer finished in fourth place, missing the podium by 33 seconds. Junior cyclist Gerber crossed the finish line in first place ahead of Ebtesam Zayed Ahmed (Egypt) and teammate Mikayla Oliver, who claimed a bronze medal, in a time of 56 minutes and 21 seconds. The junior women raced 63km 31km and compatriots Heidi Dalton and Andri Coetzee finished in 4th and 7th places respectively, recording the same finish time as Gerber. In the Junior Men’s race, Ivan Venter, who races in the Nuwater team at home, claimed a bronze medal in the 93km 63km race, also recording the same finish time as the race winner. Moroccan Abderrahim Zahiri took the Championship title in 01:33:03, with Abderrahmane Mansouri (Algeria) in second place. Venter’s compatriots Morne van Niekerk finished within the same time in 6th place, with Nickolas Dlamini finishing 10th, 3 seconds off the pace. Jandrich Kotze finished in 17th place. The Elite/U23 men’s road race takes place tomorrow.
Summary of Results – Wednesday 4 December 2013 Women – Elite 1 Ashleigh MOOLMAN (RSA) 1:53:24 2 Vera ADRIAN (NAM) +0 3 Wehazit KIDANE (ERI) +0 4 An-Li PRETORIUS (RSA) +33 Women – Junior 1 Monique GERBER (RSA) 56:21 2 Ebtesam ZAYED AHMED (EGY) +0 3 Mikayla OLIVIER (RSA) +0 4 Heidi DALTON (RSA) +0 7 Andri COETZEE (RSA) +0 Men – Junior 1 Abderrahim ZAHIRI (MAR) 1:33:03 2 Abderrahmane MANSOURI (ALG) +0 3 Ivan VENTER (RSA) +0 6 Morne VAN NIEKERK (RSA) +0 10 Nickolas DLAMINI (RSA) +3 17 Jandrich KOTZE (RSA) +4:10 Click here to view all results
* Update (5 December 2013): Distances corrected
Olympian Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and junior cyclist Monique Gerber were crowned African Continental Champions in the elite and junior women's road races in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, today. Click here to view the article