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under 16 Tour


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from Chainwheel


by Robbie Nilsen
The annual South African u16 Boys and Junior Ladies Cycle Tour was held in Harrismith this long weekend of 22 ? 25 September 2006, with Willem Jordaan of Hi-Q SuperCycling coming away with the overall leader?s yellow jersey and Cherne Steyn, also of Hi-Q SuperCycling, being the top lady finisher in the Tour.

The Tour began on Friday, 22 September 2006 with a 1.9km Prologue, which saw Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg of Mr Price taking first place in an outstanding time of 2min56sec. Willem Jordaan of Hi-Q SuperCycling finished in a very close second place, 1sec behind Reinhardt.

In the ladies? results, Elzette Visagie of Hi-Q SuperCycling, who is the current SA Track, Road & Time Trial Champ, was the fastest lady on the day, with her nearest rival, Charlotte Van Der Merwe of East Cape Penguins, being 10sec adrift. Cherne Steyn, also of Hi-Q SuperCycling, was the third fastest lady.

The next day was the first road race of the Tour, being a 93km stage from Harrismith to Kestel and back. This stage was to be one of high drama due to an accident that occurred in the front bunch in the last 10kms of the race.

This accident saw the yellow, green and polka dot jerseys as well as the leading lady crash, with a handful of cyclists who were not involved in the accident immediately attacking and racing to the end, which not surprisingly caused some raised eyebrows.

Kent McKinnon of Kwa-Zulu Natal took the stage (and the yellow jersey), followed by Shaun-Nick Bester (the son of the well known Nick Bester) taking second and Brendon Blok also of Kwa-Zulu Natal taking third.

Willem Jordaan, who was involved in the crash, finished 40sec behind McKinnon.

Disaster was also to strike for the Hi-Q SuperCycling ladies in that Elzette Visagie fell hard in the crash, resulting in concussion and injuries to her wrist, ribs and hip, which saw her having to withdraw from the race. Prior to the crash, she was having an unbelievable ride, sitting comfortably with the leading boys and having built a lead over her nearest rival, Charlotte Van Der Merwe, that was in excess of 10mins.

Fortunately, Cherne Steyn of Hi-Q SuperCycling was shadowing Charlotte Van Der Merwe in the chasing bunch and finished the stage in the same time as her, resulting in her being 4sec behind Charlotte in the general classification at the end of this stage.

The stage was not all doom and gloom for Hi-Q SuperCycling in that their Joel Loftus went into the lead in the polka dot climbers jersey competition.

The next day was a 63.6km road race from Kestel to Harrismith via QwaQwa. On instructions from their very capable manager (Eckard Bergh), the Hi-Q SuperCycling boys road aggressively from the gun, which saw an early break going up the road driven hard by their Jaco Fouche and Henk Steyn and with all of the big contenders for general classification being left in the chasing bunch.

This had the effect that all of the other teams were forced to chase the breakaway in order to retain their general classification prospects.

In the last two kilometers and with the chasing bunch breathing down the necks of the breakaway riders, Jaco Fouche of Hi-Q SuperCycling attacked and with the less than a kilometer to go it looked as if he had secured a stage win for Hi-Q SuperCycling. This was not to be due to Jaco?s chain coming off, forcing him to stop and put the chain back on.

As a result, the finish was a bunch sprint, with Willem Jordaan of Hi-Q SuperCycling winning the sprint by a comfortable 9sec from the second finisher, Albertus Rust of Western Province. Shaun-Nick Bester took third place and Kent McKinnon took fourth. This resulted in Jordaan now being 19sec off McKinnon.

The results were not to end there for Hi-Q SuperCycling with their Cherne Steyn, in a powerful sprint, finishing 6sec ahead of Charlotte Van Der Merwe, thereby placing her as the best overall lady, leading Charlotte by 2sec.

The last stage, held on Monday, 25 September 2006, was a tough road stage from Harrismith into the Golden Gate Nature Reserve and finishing at the top of what is probably an out of category mountain pass.

That morning, the cyclists were greeted with strong head and crosswinds and within the first 5kms of the race the Hi-Q SuperCycling boys set up a reverse echelon which, together with a brave early attack by Chris Wilson of Hi-Q SuperCycling, split the bunch and resulted in a breakaway group of approximately fifteen riders going up the road. In this break was Willem Jordaan, of Hi-Q SuperCycling, together with his teammate and "super-domestique" Jaco Fouche. A number of other top contenders were also in this breakaway group, including Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg of Mr Price. Kent McKinnon found himself left behind in the chasing bunch.

This breakaway stayed away until the end and on the last climb of the day Willem Jordaan attacked and finished approximately 15sec ahead of the second finisher, Reinhardt Janse Van Rensburg, thereby clinching the stage and overall yellow jersey in dramatic style as well as securing the sprinters green jersey.

The results for Hi-Q SuperCycling were not to end there, with Cherne Steyn attacking Charlotte Van Der Merwe on the last climb and finishing ahead of her, thus securing her position as the first lady in the Tour.

"What was particularly pleasing for us at Hi-Q SuperCycling was that Willem?s achievements were as a result of not only his powerful cycling, but also the unbelievable team work of his teammates who, without hesitation and time and time again, sacrificed themselves in order to assist Willem in securing the yellow jersey", remarked Robbie Nilsen of Hi-Q SuperCycling.

The results of Hi-Q SuperCycling continued to flow over the weekend, with their Christoff Van Heerden clinching third place in the Cradle Classic, behind Rupert Rheeder of Exel and Malcolm Lange of Microsoft.

In the Dischem Classic the day before, the Hi-Q SuperCycling u14 boys excelled, with their Stuart Strachan being first overall in the u14 and u16 categories and their Bradley Mitchell being the second u14 home and clinching third place overall in such categories.

Also on the Saturday, Hi-Q SuperCycling?s Chris Froome was competing in the u23 World Champs held in Salzburg. He had an excellent ride, finishing in the front bunch (5sec behind the winner) with an average of 45kms per hour. This is a remarkable achievement for such a young rider, particularly when one considers that the race was 180km long over an extremely challenging circuit course.
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