Sport

BIGGEST TIMED BIKE RACE

Jooste and Le Court take the elite honours in Cape Town Cycle Tour

Jooste and Le Court take the elite honours in Cape Town Cycle Tour
Elite women’s winner Kim Le Court and elite men's winner Chris Jooste, celebrate the 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour. (Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images)

Near perfect conditions for the 45th staging of the Cape Town Cycle Tour ensured exciting racing in both the elite categories.

TufoBMC rider Chris Jooste showed his class to outsprint Andries Nigrini (TEG), Jaedon Terlouw (Honeycomb), and Daniel Loubser to claim the Cape Town Cycle Tour elite men’s title in a time of 2:36:14. 

“This is the pinnacle of the sport in South Africa,” Jooste said after the finish. “I’m thrilled with the win.”

In the elite women’s race, double-defending champion Kim Le Court of Mauritius completed a hattrick of Cape Town Cycle Tour wins.

The Efficient Infiniti Insure rider had to work harder for her fourth title than any of the others though, after Candice Lill broke up a select group who had entered the finale together with an audacious attack in the final kilometre.

Le Court and her fellow sprinters reeled Lill in before the winner outsprinted Vera Looser, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Hayley Preen and Cherise Willeit to take the 2023 title.

Since 2018, the elite women have enjoyed their own start group and a race free of interference from the age group men. Starting in Fish Hoek, they complete 79km of the classic Cape Town Cycle Tour route, including the ascents of Smitswinkel, Chapmans Peak Drive and Suikerbossie.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Two routes and a feelgood factor adds to Cape Town Cycle Tour appeal

A blustery southeaster affected the racing, which led to a bigger group staying together deeper into the race, and regroupings later in the piece.

“The wind, especially in the beginning, going towards Simons Town, slowed the pace a bit,” Lill explained. “But once it got into the rolling terrain, it was full gas!”

As Lill pointed out, a block headwind on Smitswinkel allowed a larger group than usual to get over the first ascent in contact with the leaders. Catherine Colyn, riding for Moolman-Pasio’s Rocacorba Collective, did the bulk of the pacemaking, but in the wheels behind her, riders were able to get swept along up the climb.

On the descent to Scarborough, Emma Pallant-Browne and various riders from the Reach for Rainbows and Custom Cycling teams tried their luck, but nobody was able to establish a significant gap.

Chris Jooste wins the elite men’s race during the 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour finishing in Green Point on March 12, 2023 in Cape Town,. (Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images)

Men’s cat and mouse race 

Jooste said he knew there was a rare chance for the breakaway to stay away when they managed to open the gap into a headwind. “With such strong riders in the break, things fell into place. I knew that if we kept up the speed and our confidence, victory would be ours.”

The men’s elite racing category over the historic 109km coastal route around the Cape Peninsula produced some intense and exciting moments.

Up the deceptively tough Smitswinkel climb, five riders got off the front and forged the break. The five stayed together until Hout Bay, when Nick James (DMS) dropped back.

“That’s when the realisation kicked in that we were going to go to the finish, and a podium was a possibility,” said Nigrini, who finished second behind Jooste. 

The breakaway didn’t always seem to work together in consistent fashion, with the youthful Loubser doing the bulk of the work. With no other teammates in the break, he seemed to forge something of an allegiance with Jooste, whose experience was evident throughout.

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Cape Town native and fourth-place finisher Loubser expressed his elation at completing the race unscathed, stating, “I am overjoyed to have had a smooth ride and crossed the finish line in one piece.”

Loubser’s knowledge of the course proved invaluable to his fellow breakaway riders, as he was able to read the ever-changing conditions and offer crucial insights.

He helps guide the four by sharing vital information about wind patterns and optimal feeding locations to help them maintain their lead. Loubser’s strategic advice undoubtedly played a key role in their success.

Kim Le Court wins the elite women’s race during the 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour on March 12, 2023 in Cape Town,. (Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images)

Chasing bunch

The chasing bunch got organised up Chapman’s Peak, driven by DMS. They were closely watched by the team of Honeycomb, who were represented by Terlouw up front.

In Honeycomb’s ranks was defending champion Marc Pritzen (although riding in the colours of his team Team EF Education-NIPPO Development). However, the bunch left it too late and couldn’t bring back the breakaway.

“I kicked a bit too early,” commented third-placed Terlouw, explaining how he saw the main bunch coming back. “I got a bit nervous there and went out as hard as I could, but couldn’t hold out. That was my first time in a breakaway, and I learned a lot,” he said. 

Speaking after the race, Jooste expressed his delight at what is undoubtedly the biggest win of his career.

“This is an incredible feeling,” he said. “I’ve won every age category since under-12, so this is amazing.”

The Cape Town Cycle Tour is one of the world’s best-known cycling events, attracting thousands of participants and spectators each year.

Event organisers expressed their satisfaction with the outcome, praising the participants for their skill and endurance. “The Cape Town Cycle Tour is a celebration of cycling and the human spirit,” said David Bellairs, Director of the tour.

“The women’s and men’s elite categories were a true testament to the passion and dedication of these athletes, and we are proud to have them as part of our event.” DM

A view of the 2023 Cape Town Cycle Tour start at Grand Parade in Cape Town. (Photo: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images)

Elite men’s results

  1. Chris Jooste: TufoBMC (2:36:14)
  2. Andries Nigrini: TEG (st)
  3. Jaedon Terlouw: Honeycomb (st)
  4. Daniel Loubser: Cycling Friends (st)
  5. Gert Heyns: Valley Electrical (st) 

Elite women’s results

  1. Kim Le Court: Efficient Infiniti Insure (2:13:20)
  2. Vera Looser: Lapierre-Elysator (st)
  3. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio: AG Insurance Soudal QuickStep (st)
  4. Hayley Preen: Freewheel Cycology (st)
  5. Cherise Willeit: Sandton City Cycle Nation (st)
Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Tim Parsons says:

    I’m glad they found the wind between Muizenberg and Simon’s Town hard going, I couldn’t work out why my time was so much slower than I was expecting! Excellent organisation, tremendous crowds, great atmosphere amongst cyclists.. a real celebration of living on the Western Cape.

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