Barloworld tops in Giro, Argus

12 March 2007

Blessed with beautiful clear weather and almost windless conditions, the Cape Argus Pick ‘n Pay Cycle Tour provided a fitting conclusion to the Giro del Capo as Team Barloworld’s Robert Hunter secured a home victory for South Africa on Sunday.

With his teammates providing excellent support, Hunter surged ahead at the finish to sprint to the title ahead of last year’s Argus winner, Steffen Radochla of Team Wiesenhof-Felt, with Regiostrom Senges’ Malaya van Ruitenbeek grabbing the final podium position.

Following the top three over the finish line were MTN Microsoft’s top sprinter Malcolm Lange and Davitamon-Win’s Jurgen Roelandts.

Teamwork
Most of the hard work for Hunter was done by Hugo Sabido and Felix Cardenas, with Fabrizio Guidi adding further help at the end to ensure Hunter took the win.

The South African star described his victory as a fantastic day on which his teammates did everything right and dominated the racing. He admitted matters nearly got away from his team towards the end, but said strength in numbers prevented that happening.

Said Hunter: “As a South African, to win this race, and I hadn’t raced it in 10 years, means something.” Previously his best result in the Argus was a second-place finish.

Women’s win
Victory in the women’s race went to Duravit’s Anke Erlank Moore. She credited her win, which was her fourth in the Argus, to mountain bike training.

She and Anriette Schoeman, who missed the race after suffering a broken wrist in a training accident two weeks before the race, are the only two women to win the event over the past eight years.

Second place went to 17-year-old Cherise Taylor. Moore afterwards picked her as a future winner of the race. Ending third was Marissa van der Merwe.

Giro winner
While Hunter snatched the Cycle Tour title, it was another Team Barloworld rider, Alexander Efimkin, who won the Giro del Capo. The Russian took the honours ahead of Cardenas, with South Africa’s David George, riding for CSC Marcello, finishing third, followed by two more Barloworld cyclists, Sabido and Ryan Cox.

George, who attempted to attack on the final climb of the Argus in a desperate bid for the stage victory, admitted that going up against such a strong team was a challenge too difficult to overcome. He added that the 109-kilometre route was maybe a little too short and he didn’t have enough climbs to allow him to have a strong go at winning the final stage.

Four men in the top five of the overall classification was ample testament to the strength of the Barloworld outfit, and it spoke volumes for the hard work they did throughout the Giro.

Jersey winners
The honours didn’t end there for Barloworld either, as Sabido secured the Powerade King of the Mountains title.

MTN Microsoft’s Daryl Impey, seventh in the Argus, won the Pickford’s points jersey after capturing the prologue and the 120-kilometre second stage, and Konica Minolta’s Chris Froome won the MTN Young African jersey awarded to the top under-23 African rider.

Efimkin called his victory in the Giro “an important win”. He complimented the organisers on a smoothly put together event, and his teammates for the professionalism they showed throughout the race.

“The race was good,” he said, “and the scenery beautiful throughout the week.”

Success for charities
Other big winners on the Argus were the charities which benefited from, among others, the entries of former Tour de France champions Jan Ullrich and Greg LeMond.

Ullrich raised funds for the Starfish Greathearts Foundation and the Imibala charity, while LeMond rode to raise awareness about diabetes. He was in a group of 200 Virgin Active cyclists, with the gym chain donating money to the Education Active Foundation on their behalf.

Ullrich said he thoroughly enjoyed his ride. “It was a wonderful race, wonderful conditions,” he said.

“The spirit was marvellous. Everyone from the slow riders to the fast ones had smiles on their faces. I don’t know how much money I’ve raised for the funds, but I hope that it’s a lot. It’s something that I hold close to my heart, particularly raising money for children.”

Make a Difference
Another prominent team of fundraisers featured former Rugby World Cup winning captain Francois Pienaar teaming up with former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe – who had flown out from Leeds for the event – riding together on a tandem. They were cycling for Make a Difference (MAD).

MAD is Pienaar’s brainchild and among its honorary members it features some of the greatest rugby players in history:

 

  • New Zealand’s 1987 World Cup winning captain David Kirk;
  • 1991 Australian World Cup winning skipper Nick Farr-Jones;
  • Two-time World Cup winner John Eales, who was the victorious captain in 1999; and
  • England’s 2003 World Cup winning captain Martin Johnson.What that means, in case you hadn’t worked it out yet, is that every Rugby World Cup winning captain in history has given his backing to MAD.
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