Lise Olivier of Team bizhub followed up her victory in the recent Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c with her first title on the road this year after convincingly winning the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Magoebaskloof Cycle Challenge over 100 kilometres in Tzaneen on Saturday.
Her team-mate Jade Roberts was a distant second, followed by Jeaun-Mari Breytenbach (Nashua) in third.
Olivier, who was signed up by the Konica Minolta-funded team this season after spending time in the United States on an athletics scholarship, soloed to an impressive victory after leaving her competition for dead on the Magoebaskloof Pass that peaked just before the halfway mark.
The front group was down to seven riders – the bizhub pair and five riders from Nashua – after a mere 10 kilometres. “The quick start was quite a shock to my system after the recent endurance events, but I soon found my rhythm,” said Olivier.
Roberts ignited the race with an attack five kilometres before the start of the major climb, taking National Junior Tour winner Sarah Chemley (Nashua) with her. This left Olivier in the chase group with four Nashua girls.
“They attacked me several times, but I just concentrated on riding my own tempo. As soon as we hit the pass, they started to pop one by one.”
The 26-year-old bridged the gap to Roberts – who had dropped Chemley on the lower slopes – halfway up the seven-kilometre ascent. “I continued to drive the pace as I was concerned about the chase that may develop at the back.”
Olivier summited about a minute ahead of Roberts and, with the chasers too close for comfort, made the decision to keep going.
“It perhaps wasn’t the strongest field ever, but it was certainly the toughest route that I’ve done in South Africa. This is a confidence-builder for the big races to follow, for sure.”
Olivier said her first year as a pro was “going according to plan”. “In the first part of the season I wanted to give 110 percent for my team. Now I’m eyeing some good performances of my own.”
A recent training camp in George, followed by the nine-day joBerg2c, was the key behind her excellent form, said Olivier. “Although it made me a bit slow, I feel really strong and confident.”
Team bizhub also had a notable performance off-road, with Yolandi du Toit placing third in the elite category in her first ever MTN National Cross Country Series event in George this weekend.
“What an awesome experience. I think I’ve discovered a new passion,” Du Toit said afterwards.
The former Pick ’n Pay 94.7 champion said she decided to enter this shorter and more technical mountain biking event as it was an Olympic discipline.
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