Juniors Cyclists from Oudtshoorn Excel at 947 Cycle Challenge

Louis Visser (Middle)

The Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge which took place in Johannesburg on 20 November will be remembered by Louis Visser and Jessica Gerber from Oudtshoorn as one of the last highlights in their junior cycling career.

Louis won the junior men cycle challenge, while Jessica came second in the junior ladies’ category. Here are their race reports:

Louis Visser

The Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg was my last big race of the year and what a race it was! It was a very well organized event that took us through some interesting places in the city.

The race started off fairly slow and nothing really happened until about 10 km into the race. There were guys trying their luck with a breakaway, but most of them got caught before it could even be called a breakaway.

There were a lot of crashes all over, but it was mostly caused by nerves or a lack of concentration. The break finally got a gap and nobody was doing any chasing as the two main teams had a rider in the break.

There were no real big climbs, only a lot of power climbs, with the last one ending 6 km before the finish line – splitting the whole bunch into pieces! I just kept in the middle of the first group and gave it my all until I crossed the finish line. To my surprise, I finished 13th place overall, and first in the junior category.

I have competed in Johannesburg only once before at a track event, but this was my first road race in the city of Joburg. I always enjoy racing on a circuit that is closed to traffic – it makes racing much more fun without being concerned about safety.

Racing at altitude is a challenge for any athlete coming from the coastal areas, but the fact that I arrived in Joburg the Wednesday before the race, may have helped me a lot as I was well rested and acclimatized for the race.

Winning this race as a junior is a definite highlight in my cycling career, as the 947 Cycle Challenge is the second largest road race in South Africa – with 201 juniors who competed in this event.

After the event my Coach and mentor Barry Austin of LEADout tweeted the following: ”Taking the win in both the big ones, @CTCycleTour & 947Cycle today. Chapeau @louisvissie73” It was only then that I realized what I had achieved.
My cycling season as a junior came to an end with a highlight winning the junior 947 Cycle Challenge. It has been a great year of cycling for me.

Jessica Gerber

I lined up for the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge with 7 Junior ladies racing together with veteran ladies 30+ which formed a racing group of about 40. The junior ladies that took part are the top juniors in South Africa road cycling of which three recently participated in the UCI Road World Cycling championships.

Jessica Gerber (3rd from left)

The race started on a fast note and the riders juggled to obtain the best position in the bunch. I was very comfortable over the first climb which gave me a great deal of confidence. About 20km into the race on the Kyalami racetrack, one of the vet ladies made a break and I followed for about 5km. The bunch caught up with us, but was much smaller than we started with.

Through the halfway mark we got caught by the veteran men’s racing bunch. The pace was higher and the bunch bigger. I had to stick to my opponents with much more concentration and focus to keep up with all the changing elements. It was stressful to stay with the bunch on the down hills and steep decent and sharp corners.  After about 60km into the race we were only two junior ladies with a few vets ladies remaining in the bunch.

With the end nearing fast and with no mechanicals, we were sure of a top 3 placing on the podium with only two serous climbs remaining. On the fist climb I could feel my legs taking a bit of strain, but I dragged myself over the top.

On the final climb towards the finish line I was dropped from the bunch and found myself in no mans land – I pushed myself up the hill and I crossed the finished line in a time of 02h50min with a proud second place.

I can surely say that I have come a long way since the beginning of the season. With a great training partner, Louis Visser and surely the best coach in the world, Barry Austin, I made a success of my last race as an Junior lady for 2016. Next year I will start as a first year Elite woman and I am very exited to race against some of the top elite lady cyclist’s in South Africa – to gain the best experience.

 Photo Credit: Jetline Action Photos