The South African Road and Time Trial Championships took place in Nelspruit this past weekend, on a circuit in and around around Mbombela Stadium.
For Nico Bell, the Championships were in his hometown, and was an obvious choice to be part of his preparation for the upcoming Absa Cape Epic in March.
The Elite Men's TT was 4 laps of just over 10km, making up a total distance of 42,7km, with some technical corners and two short, punchy climbs.
"I was ready out the shoot at 06h06 and started at a moderate pace to be able to ramp it up in the last 2 laps of the race. I focused on choosing the right lines, not breaking until the last moment and keeping my momentum up through the tight corners." commented Bell.
Nico finished 6th overall, and just over 3 minutes behind Tour de France Yellow jersey wearer, Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEdge).
ELITE MEN, TIME TRIAL (42km)
1. D Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) 53'23"
2. R JvRensburg (MTN Qhubeka) 55'14"
3. L Meintjies (MTN Qhubeka) 55'29"
6. N Bell (Team RECM) 56’33"
The Elite Women's TT consisted of three laps of the same course, making up a distance of 31,8km. Starting at 10h00, the Women raced in the heat, and would have to contend with the heat and humidity, as well as Mpumalanga hills ahead.
"Time Trial is always a testing event and extremely tough on your body, and with not having spent a huge amount of time on my TT bike I was really nervous going into the event.
"It was hot but I felt consistent and could keep the heart rate and speed up. I ended up in 2nd position just over 1 minute off Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. I'm happy with the result seeing as TT is taking a bit of a back seat when it comes to my cycling disciplines at the moment." said Stander.
ELITE WOMEN, TIME TRIAL (32km)
1. A Moolman-Pasio (Bigla) 46'31"
2. C Stander (Team RECM) 47'37"
3. H Dalton (Activate) 48’49"
The Men's road race, 182km over 13 laps, saw a field of over 100 starters.
Action-packed from the start, a break of 6 riders got a gap with most of the teams represented. Unfortunately for Impey and and Bonitas, there weren't many allies to maintain the gap, which grew over 6'40" minutes 5 laps done. MTN-Qhubeka then forced a split in the main field to get more riders up the road as the break started to splinter towards the final few laps.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka) won the SA Road Race title, coming solo across the line after being in the break for the whole race.
ELITE MEN, ROAD RACE (182km)
1. J Janse van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka) 4:26'36"
2. D. Impey (Orica-GreenEdge) 4:28'40"
3. J. Thomson (MTN Qhubeka) 4:28'41"
16. N Bell (Team RECM) 4:29’04"
The Women's race started in the heat of the day, 112km or 8 laps to cover.
"The race turned into a very tactical race with lots of attacks at a very high intensity. With National Champs being this early in the season I didn't expect my form to be fantastic this early into my season. The crucial move came from Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio as she attacked with about 4km to go. I tried to keep calm going into the sprint, but after being so active throughout the race, my nerves got the better of me and I started my sprint way too early, and had to settle for 4th place.
"The vibe in the women's bunch was really amazing and the racing aggressive. I think women's cycling has rounded a big curve and is on the way up. Looking forward to the future of women's road cycling in South-Africa." smiled Cherise.
ELITE WOMEN, ROAD RACE (112km)
1. A Moolman-Pasio (Bigla) 3:18'46"
2. A Kachelhoffer (Activate) 3:19'14"
3. L Burger (Activate) 3:19'15"
4. C Stander (Team RECM) 3:19'15"