Former Norwegian national champion Linn Torp turned mechanical problems into opportunity as she sprinted to her first podium finish in South Africa at the 97-kilometre MTN OFM Classic in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The Team bizhub rider, who was stuck in top gear for the last 40 kilometres after snapping a gear cable, was sandwiched by MTN-Energade team-mates Robyn de Groot (first) and Marissa van der Merwe (third) on the finishing line.
USN’s national road champion Cherise Taylor took fourth with Team bizhub’s Catherine Williamson rounding out the top five as she prepares for her first multi-stage mountain bike race (the Contego Wines2Whales in Cape Town) this weekend.
Team Medscheme’s Arran Brown and Malcolm Lange stormed to a one-two finish in the men’s race with MTN’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg completing the podium.
“I saw the finish the previous day and knew it was slightly downhill with a ninety-degree corner about three or four hundred metres out,” said Torp, who races out of Pretoria while in South Africa.
“I thought I wouldn’t have the acceleration if the girls kicked late, so I decided to go from far out. This way, I figured, I would at least give my team-mates a proper lead-out should it not work out.”
Torp, 33, was first around the bend but De Groot was able to come over her. “She (De Groot) went slightly too early and I got back up next to her. It was pretty close in the end.”
The Norwegian said the faulty gears gave her an opportunity to do things differently. “Without the problems, I would’ve done a normal sprint and possibly finished worse. It worked out well for me.”
When her gears failed, Torp fell back to the team vehicle and was given the option to pull out. “The directeur sportif asked if I wanted to stop, but I decided to keep going to see if I could assist the team in any way.”
The triple national champion, who struggled to find her best form during her first stint in the country earlier this year, said she had been quite fortunate as the course was relatively flat and the race quite steady. “Sure, the drags and accelerations were tougher than usual, but I was never under serious pressure.”
Torp, who said she found it strange to be racing this late in the year, will now shift her focus to the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg on November 21.
“I’ve never done the race and actually don’t know much about it. But we’ll try our best to win, of course.”
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