Locals bring home the KZN Road Cycling titles

2018-02-06 06:00
PHOTO: SuppliedSean Merredew crosses the line to claim the 2018 KZN Road Cycling title on Sunday.

PHOTO: SuppliedSean Merredew crosses the line to claim the 2018 KZN Road Cycling title on Sunday.

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SEAN Merredew and Tiffany Keep proved too strong for their rivals in the road race at the KZN Road Cycling Championships near Camperdown on Sunday, but the two claimed their respective titles in contrasting styles.

The experienced Merredew, who next year becomes eligible to race in the over-40 veterans category, showed his younger rivals how to manage the final kilometres of the 101 km race when he set himself up to sprint to victory from a breakaway group of five riders.

In contrast, the young Keep, who also claimed the U19 junior title with this win, rode away from her rivals with about 20 kilometres remaining of the 89 km event. This meant she suffered through a lonely grind to the finish line, but had the benefit of being able to savor successfully defending her title over the final few kilometres.

Following Merredew across the line in the men’s race were Wessel Swanepoel and Luke Chambers. Andrew Hill and Henry Liebenberg claimed fourth and fifth respectively, although they were never really in contention for the final sprint but were integral to the success of the race-defining break.

“The racing started out slow, but by about halfway things really stepped up and started to get going,” said an elated Merredew after crossing the line.

“The bunch split up into roughly half at about halfway and then for the last 30 kays you really had to be awake.

“I was strong enough to counter all the moves and with about 20 kays to go, five of us managed to get away. I was keen for the break because I was more worried about my age category at the time, so I was keen to stay away from my age-category rivals.”

The five eked out a lead and managed to hold off the chasers, setting up an exciting finish as they climbed the last ascent of about two kilometres, before the road flattened out toward the finish. “I think the others forgot that the finish line is past the top of the final hill and not at the top, like it was at other times we have finished here,” said Merredew. “With the finish line a few hundred metres after the top you have to be patient, and more so with a headwind as we came into the finish, so my years of experience paid off – I went late rather than early and that was the right thing today.”

Keep’s race-winning move came at a similar place to the decisive break in the men’s race, but the Thomas More matric pupil was able to ride away with no challengers.

“I got away with just under 20 kilometres to go,” said Keep after crossing the line. “I attacked as we went over the top of a climb and then had to go full gas from there. It was really hard.

“At first, on the climb the chasers were staying with me for quite a while, so I was doubting myself a bit, but then I thought ‘no I can do this’, and managed to dig deep and stay away.”

The road racing took place on the second and final day of the championships.

On Saturday, S’annara Grove and Deno van Heerden won the women’s and men’s time trial titles respectively.

— Supplied.

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