As winning cyclists, Carla Obeholzer in the ladies and Hendrik (HB) Kruger in the men’s elite race, sped down the ‘road of champions’ to victory at this year’s Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic on 20 October, race organisers celebrated several firsts for this year’s race between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.
While celebrations at the race finish were in full swing – along with live music, rugby world cup matches being screened and some of Durban’s best food and beverage vendors at the Suncoast hospitality area; the atmosphere along the route was just as festive as spectators kept an eye out for the elite men riders competing for the first time on the extended 160km distance. The competition was fierce with the men’s race going down to the wire with a neck-and-neck sprint to the finish between HB Kruger, Chris Jooste, Dylan Girdlestone and Myles Van Musschenbroek.
About his victory, the very humble but elated 2019 elite men’s winner said, “The race started off quite hard with the additional 50km distance added on this year we all knew it was going to be quite a tough route, which suited me quite a lot. So I was happy that the route was a bit harder and a bit longer. The breakaway happened at about 35km and I knew that if I was able to stay away I was in with a chance. I am just ecstatic to take the win today as a lot of my break away compatriots were also so super strong so it could have gone anyone’s way. I was happy that I had some extra energy left in my legs to take the sprint and get the top podium spot,” Kruger said at the finish.
The 106km ladies race also came down to a nail-biting sprint finish with 2018 champion Carla Obeholzer edging out Jo van de Winkel at a time of 2 hours 48 minutes. “After my two accidents earlier this year it’s been a bit of a hard work to get some sort of form back and luckily today the legs were good so I’m very grateful. The ladies race was very positive today. It is one of the best tactical races I’ve seen in a while. We started on Fox Hill sending some ladies up the hill with a breakaway of three riders and they stayed away – we caught them only after Inchanga. We made the racing very hard on Inchanga with myself, Jo and Parys managed to cross over to them. Unfortunately both Lynette and Teneal had mechanical issues so at the end of the day it was just myself, Jo and Parys and I always knew my chances in a sprint with the two of them was pretty good. The Amashova is such a special event – you can talk to any one of my team mates and it’s everyone’s favourite event. We love coming here. We love the route, we love the support on the route – the organisation is absolutely awesome and it is kind of a predictor of form for the last couple of big races of the season. So an absolutely awesome one to win for the team,” Obeholzer explained in her post-victory interview.
As the competitive riders battled it out for a place in the top ten, the ‘spirit of shova’ came alive once more with the presence of hundreds of riders competing in the race to support a worthy cause. The amount of charities using the Amashova as a fundraising platform has grown exponentially in recent years and worthwhile charities such as Warrior on Wheels CHOC, Funda Nenja and Hero777 were present in their endeavours.
The more than 9 000 riders participating and thousands of spectators coming to KwaZulu-Natal for the Tsogo Sun Amashova event highlights sport’s ability to attract visitors to experience what the province has to offer. Although the 35km and 65km races went on uninterrupted by the participating cyclists, due to high heat temperatures on race day a decision was made by race organisers to stop the 106km race around midday. Seven buses collected approximately 400 cyclists who were still riding on the Amashova route in the Botha’s Hill region to be brought back safely with their bicycles to the finish area at Suncoast.
“The safety of the cyclists participating in our race is our top priority. Our decision to stop the race and get the cyclists off the road was supported by the Joint Operation’s Centre, which is a collective of a number of senior decision makers from various departments related to the organisation of the event. The residents along the route have been amazingly supportive in so many ways today to assist cyclists who were battling with the heat. We are grateful for all the support and the quick reaction by our partners on the route to ensure the safety and well-being of our cyclists,” stated, Annie Batchelder, Amashova Race Director.
Results for Men’s Elite Race:
- Hendrik (HB) Kruger – 3:45:21 (split second finish)
- Chris Jooste – 3:45:21
- Dylan Girdlestone – 3:45:22
- Myles Van Musschenbroek – 3:45:23
- Jean-Pierre Lloyd – 3:45:37
Results for Women’s Elite Race:
- Carla Obeholzer – 2:48:11 (split second finish)
- Jo van de Winkel – 2:48:11
- Parys Edwards – 2:48:13
- Lynette Burger – 2:51:15
- Kimberley Le Court De Billot – 2:51:17