Words: An-Li Kachelhoffer
Kachelhoffer once again showed her class over the weekend by winning the Mzansi Women’s Criterium and finishing 3rd at Emperors Palace Classic.
Team Activate Drinks started their racing weekend with the Mzansi Criterium on Saturday. This was like a typical Belgium Kermes (circuit race that is traditional in Belgium). A 2.7km, fairly technical circuit greeted the elite women for a 45min + 1 lap race.
The first lap saw the women starting out with the early tempo set by the Time Freight VELOlife Ladies team. With the technical nature of the course the bunch quickly broke up into 3 groups. The leading group consisting of An-Li Kachelhoffer (Activate Drinks), Heidi Dalton (Lotto Belisol), Lise Olivier (Time Freight VELOlife), Chane Jonker and Juanita Venter (both Bestmed a[s]g).
The racing was made by Kachelhoffer and Olivier every lap as the bunch went up a short steep kick, continuously forcing Dalton, Jonker and Venter to match the pace. Soon enough it would take the toll on Jonker and Venter, leaving only three women up front to dice it out for the last three laps. The blistering pace set by Kachelhoffer up the last climb before the finish saw Dalton drop off slightly making it a sprint finish between Kachelhoffer and Olivier.
Kachelhoffer (Activate Drinks) managed to just pip Olivier (Time Freight VELOlife) on the line claiming the win in the inaugural womens race.
A chilly start to Sunday saw the teams taking on the seventh edition of the 102km Emperors Palace Classic
Some late decisions made on the start line, changed the womens race from a start with the veteran men 50+ to a stand-alone bunch.
The ladies bunch worked well together for the first part of the race, happy to set a fast pace, keeping attacks at bay. After a lull in pace the attacks came hard and fast from Activated Drinks and Time Freight VELOlife, forcing Bestmed a[s]g to respond to keep the race together on the flat route.
The latter part of the race became very negative as there was no one team willing to control the pace, making it sure to be a sprint finish.
The finish was tricky as it was filled with slower riders from the shorter events of the day. Olivier saw an opportunity at about 500m to go on the long 800m uphill drag to the finish and opened her sprint early. This caught the bunch off guard and the quickest reactions were from Anriette Schoeman (African Silks Bestmed) and An-Li Kachelhoffer (Activated Drinks), which would ultimately be the three ladies on the podium.
Lise Olivier (Time Freight VELOlife) took the overall win followed by Anriette Schoeman (Africa Silks Bestmed) with An-Li Kachelhoffer (Activate Drinks) taking third.
Kachelhoffer:” The Mzansi Criterium was truly a great initiative, a typical Europe experience. We do need more of this type of racing! Well done on a great event put up by Echelon Events. This was a great weekend of racing; it’s not very often that we get 2 one-day events a weekend. This back to back racing is great preparation for my European racing season.”