US cyclists shine at UWCT Final time trial
24 August 2012
American time trial stars stole the show at the start of the UCI World Cycling Tour Final (UWCT) at Wartburg outside Pietermaritzburg on Thursday, winning five of the 17 gold medals on offer, while South Africans also clinching the coveted rainbow-striped UCI jerseys that are presented to amateur world champions.
US star Richard "Ringo" Feldman from Ketchum, Idaho, won his seventh masters world title and showed his class and experience as he posted the fastest time overall en route to winning the title in the men's 40 to 45 year age category in cool, clear, and breezy conditions.
That time of 33 minutes and 26 seconds was almost two minutes faster than any other time posted on the day and underscored his strength and experience in the time trial.
After dedicating the win to his mother-in-law who had just passed away, Feldman headed for the airport to return to the USA for her funeral.
'Each win is special'
"Each win is special and to defend a championship is always great," he said.
"The first one is always tremendous but then to come back and renew it is always a treat because come January the first every year you have to wipe the slate clean and rewrite history. It doesn't matter what you have done before.
"There is nothing higher than the world champs and the pride of wearing a world champion's jersey that you have earned is always something to remember," he added.
Feldman also welcomed the move to Pietermaritzburg for the UWCT Final. "It's tremendous to come to Africa and great to be able to race elsewhere in the world outside of Europe," he said.
"It's a pity I won’t be able to race in the road race. Cycling is my passion and to be able to continue it on the UCI World Cycling Tour is special."
Broke 40-minute barrier
Berkeley professor Molly van Houweling added another gold medal to the USA's haul in the women's 35 to 39 category, and posted the fastest women's time. She was also one of only two women's to break the 40-minute barrier into the time trial.
"A lot of preparation has gone into this at home. It has been the focus of my season,” she explained. "I also spent four days on the course beforehand checking it out, which was really important with the fog in the morning.
"It was nerve racking coming here because I have never competed against South African riders before and they were really fast," she added. "After the first leg I was behind and had to make up a lot of time on the second leg."
Van Houweling will jet home to contest the US Elite Road Champs before undergoing surgery to repair damage to an elbow, which she suffered from a massive crash at last year's American champs.
The Californian academic had to reschedule numerous lectures to enable her to make the trip. "Hopefully this jersey will help with the students understanding of this," she said.
South African star and current African champion Lynette Burger romped to a popular local victory in the 30 to 34 age group, and said that she had paced her race carefully, getting updates from her fiancé about the times she needed to win the UCI rainbow jersey.
"To get those stripes means everything," said Burger. "I have been the South African champion in the elite category, but to now win the rainbow stripes means everything."
There was jubilation for the enthusiastic contingent from Norway as they bagged three world titles, equalling the South African haul of rainbow jerseys. Nina Rise Oddan shrieked hysterically when her winning time in the 40 to 44 category was confirmed. "I am so satisfied, it is an absolute dream come true!" she gushed.
Christiaan Rossouw was the first South African man to win a world title in the time trial, taking an impressive victory in the 60 to 64 age group in what was always going to be the end of his competitive riding career.
'My biggest achievement'
"I am absolutely ecstatic, it is my biggest achievement," said Rossouw.
"I have only been cycling for eight years and this is the ultimate goal that I have been aiming for. I couldn't have asked for a better finish to my competitive career.
"It is excellent to have this event here in South African and the vibe has been fantastic. It has also helped lift the standard of amateur cycling in South Africa," he concluded.
Local cycling icon Andrew McLean was pipped to the rainbow jersey in a thrilling men's 45 to49 age group time trial by US star Cale Rheeder, who won by a mere two seconds.
"I have no problem coming second to a class rider," said McLean. "Besides I always have the road race on the weekend to redeem myself!"
The riders enjoy a rest day on Friday before the road races on Saturday and Sunday, which start and finish at Alexandra Park in Pietermaritzburg.
(Winner, top South African finisher)
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material