Jennie Stenerhag

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Tour de Freestate UCI 2.1


For the first time ever there was a UCI stage race for ladies in South Africa. It is nice to see the sport develop and moving forward for the ladies! Of course I wanted to do the race and managed to get a spot in the German “Team Bike-Aid”. In my team was also Annemie from Stellenbosch, I am helping her with training so it was fun and exciting to be there with her when she could see and learn how everything works at a UCI stage race.


We flew from Cape Town to Bloemfontein where we got a rented car and drove 150km on a straight road to Willem Pretorious nature reserve, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere! When we got there we met the team and got our little chalet with a beautiful view over a lake. Emma Johansson and Sara Mustonen were also there, so was nice to see some Swedes again:-)


Stage 1 Virginia to Brandfort 75km


The first stage had been shortened from 112km to 75km due to road works. The route turned out to be a bit boring, a straight road all the way from the end of the neutral zone to the finish. The bunch was a bit nervous and there were a few bad crashes and a lot of punctures. The road surface was bad and the strong side wind and completely flat, which caused a lot of the crashes. Unfortunately Annemie was involved in the first big crash and I am very impressed that she finished the stage!

I did not have a good race at all, I was not used to the bunch after 2,5 months of mountainbiking, so I sat too much in the wind, used too heavy gears and did not eat enough. That we were at1350 metersabove sea level also did not help! So when the attacks came with 15km to go I was finished and dropped and came to the finish a few minutes after the winner.


Stage 2, Jagersfontein to Bloemfontein 106km


On the way to the start we backtracked the route from Bloemfontein (we had stayed at Philip Saunders resort), today was worse then yesterday, 100km straight!!! We had ONE corner 2km from the finish, that was all!! On top of that there was a head wind all the way, which made the race a bit slow. The first crash was already in the neutral zone and about 20km in to the race there was another one… I rode a lot better today and corrected all my mistakes from the previous day. After about 50km a few attacks came and I got in to a breakaway group of about 15 girls, it felt good to be able to sit there. Unfortunately 2 bunches caught up with us and when we got closer to the finish we were 46 girls. The finish was just after a downhill so the sprint was fast and crazy.


Rest day


We had a rest day since we were moving from Bloemfontein to Golden Gate national park where the hill stages would be. It felt a bit strange to have a rest day after only 2 days of racing. We stopped at a lion farm on the way, so that the international riders could feel that they were in Africa:-)

It was very beautiful in Golden Gate, a completely different landscape to what I have seen in South Africa before. We stayed at 1800 meters above sea level and it was difficult to breathe when we went for a short ride.


Stage 3, Clarens to Clarens 121km


I was a bit nervous before the start of this stage, hills and high altitude! It was yet another day with a head wind and long straight roads, even though we at least did a lap today:-) The race turned out to be quite slow since no one was interested in a break away, the bunch was together to kilometre 94 when we came to some long hills. That’s when the real attacks started and the bunch split in to pieces. I tried hard to go with and could stay with the front bunch for a bit but was way over my limit so eventually dropped back to the second bunch. We finished 1,5 minute after Emma who won and I crossed the line in 23rd place.



Stage 4, Kestell to Clarens 75km

The last day was the hill stage and among the steepest I have ever done in a race! A contrast to the first flat stages! The attacks started from the word go, a bit unexpected since the route was going to eliminate the riders any way. We turned in toGolden Gatenature reserve and it was really beautiful, even though I could not really appreciate the view cause of the hills. I stayed with the first bunch for45 kmuntil we came to the 5km climb that started really steep, after that it was a matter of survival. I was happy that I had borrowed a 28 cassette for this stage when we turned off the main road on to a narrow road that went straight up. When we came up to the top of the steepest part it was only to see that the hill carried on for another kilometre or so…. And that to2100 metersabove sea level!! It was really hard to breath up there!


I finished 29th on the stage and 28th in the GC.


Congratulations to Emma for winning the tour after 3 second places and one stage win!


It was fun to do a UCI stage race again! Now I will get some rest in Stellenbosch and then flying home to Swedenon the 7th of June.



Team Bike-Aid: Ariane, Jennie, Annemie, Janina, Desiree, Christine


Together with our escorts to the start of day 1:-)


Our chalet in the Willem Pretorius nature reserv


 View from or chalet


We were welcomed at the finish!


 Colorful along the route!



 Annemie and me before the start of day 2


 Sign on


 The bunch starting to climb


 Finish of day 3


Think I was nervous before the start of the last day;)


 The bunch through the Golden Gate nature reserv



For the first time ever has a ladies team from Eritrea done a race in another country!



 Climbing the steep hill on day 4...


 ...almost at the top...

 The beautiful mountains in the Golden Gate


Congratulations Emma for winning the tour!!!


Out riding in a beautiful sun set in the Golden Gate on our rest day


Visited the lions on our rest day. They are good friends with the dogs:-)


The tiger can also join:-)


The lionesses were lazy


The lion king!


 The white tiger!


A baboon that just stole a banana out of a van, at the accommodation at Golden Gate

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