Climbers shine in Challenge

AS EXPECTED, climbers shone the brightest at the 2009 Telkom Satellite Challenge 107km cycle race at the weekend, with Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) and Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Supercycling), claiming the men's and women's titles respectively.

AS EXPECTED, climbers shone the brightest at the 2009 Telkom Satellite Challenge 107km cycle race at the weekend, with Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) and Ashleigh Moolman (Toyota Supercycling), claiming the men's and women's titles respectively.

The event, which took place in hot, clear conditions in the vicinity of Hartbeespoort, southwest of Pretoria, doubled as round nine of the 13-race Alpha Pharm Seeding Series, the most prestigious road cycling series in the country.

The series has so far been dominated by sprinters, but the race route for the Telkom event, with most of its climb in the final 20km, would change that.

In the men's race, Arran Brown (Medscheme) was intent on retaining the green series leader's jersey, but as a sprinter, it was always going to be a tough task. A large crash halfway into the race reduced the contender list somewhat, but with the 4km climb up Hekpoort still to come, there was an almost tangible air of anticipation and fear.

A six-rider break comprising a member of each of the big teams reached the base of Hekpoort first, but it broke up as the gradient and pace began to take their toll.

By the summit of the climb Evans, Hanco Kachelhoffer (Medscheme), Johann Rabie (Neotel) and Ian McLeod (MTN Energade) were at the head of the field.

Evans attacked at the top, taking only Rabie along. They set their sights on the final 16km and shared the pace-setting, building up a lead of 25 seconds at one point.

Evans attacked Rabie on the final few metres of ascent before diving into the final downhill kilometre to secure his first major road race win of the year in a quick time of 2hrs:23min:11sec.

Rabie finished a second later, with Brown snatching third in a chasing group to extend his Alpha Pharm Seeding Series lead. - Sapa

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