Teweldeberhan And Kachelhoffer Take Top Honours At 2014 TRAC N4 Tour

Exciting road racing unfolded at the fourth TRAC N4 Junior Cycle Tour, which took place in and around Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, from 27 to 30 March 2014.  WCC Qhubeka’s Metkel Eyob Teweldeberhan and An-Li Kachelhoffer claimed the top honours in the overall General Classification (GC) in the under-23 Men and Elite Women’s races respectively.  Over and above the great racing that unfolded, the event’s title sponsor Trans African Concessions (TRAC) announced early in the competition that they were donating R20 000 into a fund for injured cyclist Jevandre Pauls to cover his medical costs.  Pauls was recently badly injured when a motor vehicle collided with him and fellow rider Paul Symons whilst on a training ride near Stellenbosch last month.

Teweldeberhan’s opening stage saw him gain 13 seconds on the second-placed rider Ryan Gibbons (Team EuropcarSA) over a distance of 125 km.  By day two, his time advantage had reduced to just 7 seconds when Gibbons took the stage win in the 146 km stage in Nelspruit.  Gibbons’ victory on the third day’s 37.8 km criterium saw Teweldeberhan close behind by 2 seconds, with Gibbons briefly leading the overall GC by only one second.  The 17 km Time Trial later that day saw Teweldeberhan slip further back when he trailed 51 seconds off the fastest time set by Nicholas Dougal (Qhubeka WCC), a winning time of 22 minutes 8.180 seconds.  Teweldeberhan’s TT performance kept him in 2nd pace on the overall GC, 41 seconds behind leader Gibbons.

But Teweldeberhan made amends on the final day’s 96 km stage when he finished 2nd to Kevin Patten (Westvaal BMC) in a sprint for the finish line, one second off the winning time of 2 hours 29 minutes 47 seconds.  Gibbons finished 6th on the final stage, three minutes and 28 seconds off the pace.  Teweldeberhan cemented his top position on the overall GC in 11 hours 22 minutes and 15 seconds.  Gibbons was second on the overall podium, trailing by 00:02:55, with Dougal third, 00:05:15 off the pace.

An-Li Kachelhoffer’s victory came by the narrowest of margins in some exciting women’s racing despite the small field. Kachelhoffer won the 4-day, 5-stage tour by 21 seconds.  Her major advantage came on day 2 when she won the 107km stage from White River to Sabie with a time advantage of 2 minutes 21 seconds.  Kachelhoffer’s wheel crossed the finish line first in the 122 km opening stage with second placed Heidi Dalton, Juanita Venter (3rd) and Dalene Van Der Leek (4th) posting the same time of 3 hours 53 minutes.  In Stage 3’s 24.3 km criterium, the four women posted the same times once again, with Kachelhoffer retaining the lead.

When it came to the 17 km Time Trial, Venter showed her prowess by claiming a solid victory in 26 minutes 16.340 seconds, 27 seconds ahead of second placed Dalton, with Van Der Leek finishing third, 00:02:10 off the pace, and Kachelhoffer fourth, a further four seconds behind.  An-Li had managed to secure the top spot on the overall GC after the third day, with Venter climbing to second, 17 seconds off the pace.

The fourth and final 96 km stage saw Dalton claim the victory in 03:04:38 with An-Li second just 5 seconds behind.  Gustav Basson (ASG) claimed first place on the overall GC in the Junior Men category in 10:35:25.  Stefan De Bod (CYC) finished second, 6 minutes 34 seconds behind with Kent Main (ASG) third, 7 minutes 12 seconds off the leader’s time.  In the Under-16 Boys’ challenge, it was Enno Swanepoel (Team Europcar SA) who claimed first place on the overall GC in a time of 07:48:36.  Swanepoel was closely followed by Damean Oosthuizen (CYC) and Gregory De Vink (Valencia), who finished 12 seconds and 29 seconds off the pace respectively.

Catherine Colyn claimed a convincing victory in the u16 Girls’ race with a margin of 56 minutes 45 seconds over her closest challenger, Tyneale Terry, with Lynette Benson finishing third.  In the Best Young Rider awards, Jarrod Hettingh (ASG) won the Junior category, Demarco Pillay (Valencia) claimed the under-16 award, and Morne Van Niekerk (Team Abantu) won the under-23 award.