Fine day for U.S. stars

2012-08-24 00:00

WARTBURG — American time trial stars stole the show at the start of the UCI World Cycling Tour Final at Wartburg yesterday, winning five of the 17 gold medals on offer, with three local riders also clinching coveted UCI jerseys that are presented to the new amateur world champions.

U.S. stars Richard “Ringo” Feldman from Ketchum, Idaho, won his seventh masters world title and showed his class and experience as he posted the fastest time overall en route to winning the title in the men’s 40-45 year age category, racing in cool, clear weather over the 26 km course with a steady breeze playing a role in the racing.

His 33 minutes 26 seconds was almost two minutes faster than any other time posted on the day, underscoring his strength and experience in the time trial. He dedicated the win to his mother-in-law, who has just passed away. Feldman will be heading straight back to the airport to be able to attend her funeral.

“Each win is special and to defend a championship is always great,” said Feldman. “The first one is always tremendous, but then to come back and renew it is always a treat because come January 1 every year, you have to wipe the slate clean and rewrite history. It doesn’t matter what you have done before.”

Berkeley professor Molly van Houweling added another gold to the U.S. swag in the women’s 35-39 category, and posted the fastest women’s time, one of only two women to break the 40-minute barrier into the time trial.

“A lot of preparation has gone into this at home — it has been the focus of my season. I also spent four days on the course beforehand checking it out which was really important with the fog in the morning,” said Van Houweling.

She will jet home to contest the U.S. Elite Road Champs before undergoing surgery to repair damage to her elbow from a massive crash at last year’s U.S. championships. The Californian academic had to reschedule numerous lectures to enable her to make the trip.

South African star and current African champion Lynette Burger romped to a popular local victory in the 30-34 age group, and said she had paced her race carefully, getting updates from her fiancé about times she needed to win the UCI rainbow jersey.

“To get those stripes means everything,” said Burger. “I have been the South African champion in the elite category, but to now win the rainbow stripes means everything.”

There was jubilation for the enthusiastic contingent from Norway as they bagged three world titles, equalling the South African haul of rainbow jerseys. Nina Rise Oddan shrieked hysterically when her time in the 40-44 age category was confirmed. “I am so satisfied; it is an absolute dream come true!” she gushed.

Christiaan Rossouw was the first South African man to win a world title in the time trial, winning impressively in the 60-64 age group, in what was always going to be the end of his competitive riding career. “I have only been cycling for eight years and this is the ultimate goal that I have been aiming for. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish to my competitive career.”

The riders enjoy a rest day today before the road races tomorrow and Sunday, starting and finishing at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg.

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