The 2016 UCI World Gran Fondo World Championships took place in Perth, Australia from 1-4 September. South Africa’s Deno van Heerden brought home the gold medal after he claimed the victory in the Men’s 35-39 Road Race.
The Gran Fondo World Championships sees amateurs and professional battle it out each year for the chance to claim the coveted rainbow jersey. Riders between the ages of 19 and 77 took to the tarmac as they competed in their respective age categories.
In the Time Trial, Gwyn Pine claimed the silver medal in the Men’s 50-54 category. “To be honest, I had anticipated a good time,” he said. Pine took part in the World Championships in Slovenia two years ago, and missed out on the bronze medal by 12 seconds.
The school teacher from Newcastle has won National Time Trial titles for the past five years, but acknowledges that racing at international level is much more challenging, even though he is knocking on the door of a gold medal. “Slovenia was an eye-opener for me and I got to see the competition out there. I came back wanting to do better,” he said.
The 12-time Comrades Marathon runner and four-time Ironman competitor switched to cycling when his knees began to give him trouble. “I’ve been riding for 11 years with the Mr. Price Vets. I’m not a dynamic rider who wins 100 races, but I am consistent. Lots of my friends call me Mr. Consistent. Once you take a break from riding its hard to get back to where you were as you get older, so its good to keep at it,” he said.
Pine looks forward to next year’s event in France. “I am hoping for a gold, I’m definitely going to give it a go,” he said.
Alex Pavlov finished in 6th place in the Men’s 19-34 category out of a strong field of 87 riders. Deno van Heerden finished 6th in the Men’s 35-59 category. Other top ten finishers were Kent Kirwood (7th) in the Men’s 40-44 category, Paul Furbank who finished 5th in the Men’s 60-64 category, and Jill Edwards who claimed 5th place in the Women’s 60-64 class.
The Road Race took place on Sunday 4 September. Over 130 riders competed in the 35-39 category from all over the world, and South Africa’s Deno van Heerden claimed the gold medal in a time of 4:11.56. “It took a lot of positive thinking, I wanted to be as competitive as I could be going into Worlds,” he said. “Everything seemed to just come together on the day and I rode clever, and my legs felt good,” he added.
Van Heerden mentioned that it was daunting going into a race blind, not knowing how many people from all over the world would be taking part. “I wanted to do well, but the win was absolutely the cherry on top,” he said.
Van Heerden focused predominantly on achieving a great result for his Time Trial, but had an unfortunate crash. Despite the set-back, he still managed to finish in a top ten spot, with a sixth place on the day.
When chatting about the event, he said: “It was phenomenal. The races were so well organised and everything ran smoothly. It’s a beautiful country, and so cycling-friendly. It was a wonderful time.”
Thys Oosthuizen delivered an outstanding performance, and missed the bronze medal by eight seconds in the Men’s 40-44 Road Race. The Women’s 55-59 Road Race saw Gilliane Toozs-Hobson finish in sixth place. Jill Edwards rode into the top ten and finished in 9th place in the Women’s 60-64 Road Race.