Jennie Stenerhag

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The Argus


Yesterday it was time for the big day in South Africa, it was The Cape Argus Pick and Pay Cycle tour. The biggest timed cycling event in the world. The week before someone asked me if I was ready for the world champs on Sunday, a joke but with some truth, that is how big the race is in this country. Everyone knows who won it but no one would know who won the SA champs. It is live coverage on TV from 6 am till 2 pm. Out of the 35000 cyclist there was also some famous people. Jan Ullrich was riding for charity and Hanka Kupfernagel, the present world champion in Time trail and cycle cross rode with her boyfriend in some back group.

For the first time in history of the Argus the ladies were to start on their own, previous we have started with the men and it has not really been a ladies race, just for us to sit in the bunch. As usual it was 50 of us, the bunch seamed a bit small when it was only us. But only after about 25 km the veterans caught up with us, they had started a few minutes behind us. The bunch became very big since they were about 200. I was just waiting for them to separate us but it never happened. Afterwards I was told that it had been decided the day before that we would ride with them when they caught us. So it was not such a tactical race between the teams as I had expected.  Instead it was a fast race in a big bunch and all you had to do was stay up right and not crash, this race is known for its many crashes! Not until 80km into the race when we hit the hills things started to happen. The big challenge is Chapmans peak, here I think we lost half of the bunch and then we lost a few more on the next steep hill. When we came to the finish it was a fast and furious bunch, a bit of a mess when two categories are sprinting for the line together but also separate. Within the last kilometre we had two big crashes, it sounded like a car crash and I could only hear bikes breaking and people screaming. With 300 meters to go I had a perfect position behind some men and as the first lady but I was passed just before the line and finished 5th in a close sprint. That was the same position as I got 2006 and of course I would have liked to get a better position this time. But I was happy that I was not in the crashes and I only had very good sprinters ahead of me. So I will have to come back next year and try again. Cherise Taylor won the race, the same young girl as won the race in Johannesburg three weeks ago. 

It was 38 degrees here yesterday, I felt sorry for the fun riders that were out there the whole day. The last start was at 10.15 and the last rider to finish was expected at 17.00, that is tough in the heat and on those hills. I lay by the pool all afternoon and enjoyed the sun, I had avoided it for a few days before the race so I had some catching up to do. 

Now I only have 9 more days in South Africa before I go back to Sweden, just about time for Easter. It will be nice to see my family and friends again after more then 4 months. Specially Maria, my brother’s baby daughter that was born the same day as I arrived here in SA, so I have never met her.  

It will take a while before I race again, the first race in Sweden is on the 19th of April. So now it is a lot of training on the schedule instead.


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