Words: Kandice Buys | Photo: © Capcha Photography
Cherise Stander finished off a stellar week for Team RECM with a victory at the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Momentum Cycle Tour, after Ariane Kleinhans won the Overall title at the Bestmed Tour de Boland in a thrilling finale on Friday afternoon.
You would be forgiven for thinking that they are a road team, but these mountain biking ladles are leaving no stone unturned in their preparations for the Absa Cape Epic that starts at Meerendal Wine Estate on 23 March.
Stander, who last won the Cycle Tour last in 2011, took the early lead and controlled the 109km race from the start, while seven-time winner Anriette Schoeman was lurking in the closing stages, she lost some ground on the climbs approaching the finish.
Stander, surrounded by a group of men in windy conditions, managed to avoid a crash when one of the male riders in front of her fell just before the line, and she maintained her momentum to win the women's title in 2:51:00.
Stander, riding for Team RECM, was pleased to be back to her best after struggling last year following the deaths of her husband Burry Stander, a former professional mountainbike rider, and her grandmother.
“My gran was the anchor in my cycling career. She supported me since I was nine years old, over Suikerbossie (hill) I just kept thinking about her and Burry, and how much I wanted this win for both of them.” Stander said.
“I'm extremely happy and they were the motivation that got me over the line.” beamed Stander.
The Tour de Boland finished in dramatic fashion last week friday afternoon with Ariane Kleinhans finishing 2nd on the final stage up the infamous Franschhoek Pass.
Kleinhans finished 18 seconds behind stage winner Lise Oliver to finish just 3 seconds ahead of her in the General Classification and take the overall win after 4 stages around the Boland.
"I can't believe that I managed to win the Tour de Boland, I came into the last stage in 2nd overall, and tired to stay with Lise as far as I could up the Pass, but really didn't expect to finish ahead of her on GC, I'm just so happy with the result!"
Kleinhans will partner up with 2013 Cape Pioneer partner, Annika Langvad in the women's category, and Cherise Stander with Specialized sponsored triathlete, Theo Blignaut in the Mixed for the Absa Cape Epic that starts in just under two weeks time.
Team RECM will be in action next at the MTN Series #3 in Tulbagh this coming Saturday.