Former South African road race champion, Lynette Burger, outsprinted her rivals to claim victory in the Engen Dynamic Cycle Challenge in Pretoria on Sunday, giving her team a total of seven wins in seven races.
A headwind in the finishing straight of the 103km race gave Burger the opportunity to use her experience to claim the victory. She powered alone at the head of the field over the last 300 metres after her rivals faded, having started their final dash too soon.
“In a sprint, everyone is eager, but today I think many of the girls were over eager. I was at the back of the bunch with a kilometre to go and with 500 metres to go someone started sprinting. Way too soon I thought. I stayed sheltered for a while and then ended up sprinting flat out the last 300 metres, which in itself is a long way to sprint,” said Burger.
Linda van den Biggelaar (Best Med) finished second with Odelle Joubert (Complete Cyclist) rounding out the podium places.
The out-and-back race saw a relatively big women’s field tackle the undulating route in hot, breezy conditions. The pace was high from the start, with the Best-Med team forcing the early pace.
“Since I won the first leg of the Engen Series in Durban, our team leads the series rankings, so we waited to see how the first half of the race went before deciding what tactics to use. Once we turned around the wind was a head/crosswind and that started to thin the race out as riders struggled to stay in touch, leaving 11 riders in the front bunch for the last 15 kms,” explained Burger.
Burger was quick to thank her young teammates, Heidi Dalton, Leandri du Toit and Adri Coetzee.
“These girls are still young, but are showing great maturity after a few years of racing together. There is 100% commitment in everything we do as a team and we pride ourselves on racing positively and with the right kind of aggression,” explained Burger.
“I was impressed to see Heidi finished fourth in the sprint today. She’s always said she’s not a sprinter, but she showed today that she can be competitive in the sprints if she wants to be,” smiled Burger.
Burger (32) plans to retire from full-time racing next month. The former African and South African champion will remain involved in the sport though.
“The 94.7 Cycle Challenge will be my final race. I will continue to be a mentor and coach because I believe women’s road racing in South Africa needs it. There is a lot of talent but not a lot of support and I’d like to offer my guidance and experience and see women’s road racing flourish,” said Burger.