Who to watch in the elite women’s race at the 2020 Cape Town Cycle Tour

The 2020 Cape Town Cycle Tour is just days away and tens of thousands of riders, with a more social disposition, nervously await the “Hoopla” which will signal the start of their ride. A select group of elite women are nervous for another reason. The CTCT marks their biggest race of the year. An opportunity for coverage for their sponsors and to elevate themselves to household names in South African sport.

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One rider who has done just that is Cherise Willeit. The defending women’s champion starts the 2020 race as the favourite and could well add to her four Cape Town Cycle Tour titles on Sunday, 8 March. “My build-up to this year’s Cape Town Cycle Tour has not gone as well as I had hoped it would” Willeit said, downplaying her chances. “I moved to Germany in May last year and that has taken it’s a toll on me mentally. The European winter is not my favourite thing! I struggled to find the motivation to train when it was minus five, snowing and raining. I ride because I enjoy it and riding in that weather simply wasn’t fun for me.”

 

Now back in sunny South Africa, the Customized Cycling Bioplus rider has notched up her first podium place of the season, in the Dischem Ride for Sight. “Being back in South Africa, for the last few weeks, has been absolutely amazing. I’ve rediscovered the passion for riding my bike and I’ve loved the racing I’ve done so far too. Customized Cycling Bioplus has certainly helped me reignite my passion for cycling in general and women’s cycling in particular. And with that I must say hats off to the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust for giving us our own race. A lot of people think that because it’s a shorter race it’s easier. But it’s the complete opposite. Starting in Fish Hoek we have 78 kilometers to race and the women make sure every kilometre counts. It is super-fast. Super aggressive. And very tactical from the gun. The mountain bikers, [including Candice Lill, Barbra Benko, and Ariane Lüthi], and the climbers, like Catherine Colyn and Vera Adrian, want to have a small group towards the finish. So, they are going to make sure that it’s very hard and as few sprinters get to the finish line as possible.”

 

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“While a victory would be great” Willeit admitted, “I really want to see women’s cycling win. I want to get to the finish line knowing I’ve given my all no matter what the outcome may be. I’m really excited to see so many youngsters coming up. Riders like Frances Janse van Rensburg, Tiffany Keep and Hayley Preen, the 2020 Herald Cycle Tour winner, are just so strong. There are so many youngsters who could win the Cape Town Cycle Tour this year. But there are also experienced riders like Kim Le Court De Billot [the 2018 champion] who is really focused on the CTCT. I’m really expecting big things from her.”

 

The elite women’s race starts at 06h00, in Fish Hoek. Their route follows the same final 78 kilometres as the rest of the field. It features ascents of Smitswinkel, Chapman’s Peak and Suikerbossie. In 2019 a select group of six riders escaped off the front on Suikerbossie, with 15.4 kilometres left to race, but could not stay away as they started to jockey for position in the run-in to Green Point. That set-up a reduced bunch sprint which Willeit won with ease. For the women looking to upset the queen of South African sprinting the key will be to ensure the pace is relentless throughout the final kilometres in 2020.

 

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Cycling fans can watch the race live on the Cape Town Cycle Tour’s Facebook page, Cape Town Cycle Tour, or on the race’s website: www.capetowncycletour.com. The live broadcast will start at 06h00 and conclude at 15h00 on Sunday, 8 March. The men’s and women’s races will also feature live updates on the event’s Twitter handle: @CTCycleTour. While highlights from riders’ experiences can be found on Instagram, @ctcycletour, or by following the hashtag: #ctcycletour2020.




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