26 Sep, 2012

Tri Action in PE!

Tri Action in PE!

It was a star-studded elite men and women field that lined up, aiming for important ITU points in an Olympic year, and of course also the title of South African Champion. With warm conditions and a typically strong wind, the stage was set for a challenging race.


Among the big South African names were Richard Murray, Erhard Wolfaardt and Hendrik de Villiers, all three with their sights set on the two spots for triathletes in the South African team going to the Olympics in London later this year. The women’s race saw Kate Roberts, who has three African Triathlon World Cup titles to her name, and Andrea Steyn, the undefeated BSG Energade Tri Series champion, lining up. The strong presence of international competitors from Germany, Poland, China, Finland, Belgium, Morocco and France meant the locals had their work cut out for them.



The men were first to head out on their 1.5km swim, braving big breakers to get behind the waves. Young Henri Schoeman led the men out the water, followed by Frenchman Frederic Belaubre. They left transition turning into a strong headwind for the first of four laps of 10km on the bike. The chasing group of German Franz Loeschke, South Africans Wicus Weber and Wian Sullwald, and the Moroccan Mehdi Essadiq, all worked hard for the first 5km to catch up with the leaders. The lead group then remained the same for the rest of the bike leg, steadily pulling away from the chasing groups.


The race was well supported and there was a great atmosphere as the excitement mounted during the run. Loeschke took the lead in the run and the rest of the field simply could not catch him. He won the race in a time of 1:57:26, followed by Belaubre some 30 seconds behind him. The first South African to cross the line, and claim the South African title, was 18-year-old Wian Sullwald in third place, doing extremely well in his first Olympic distance race. “I really would like to get a podium at Junior World Champs. It will be quite tough, but fortunately there is still some time to train for this,’ said Sullwald after the race.



In the women’s race, Mari Rabie was first out the water with Kate Roberts in second position. They worked together on the bike course, hoping to open a gap between themselves and the chasing group, but after one lap they were caught by the chasing group consisting of South Africans Carlyn Fischer, Vicky van der Merwe, Gillian Sanders, Corinne Berg and Andrea Steyn.


All African Games Champion Carlyn Fischer entered transition first and quickly led the rest of the field out onto the run course of four laps of 2.5km. She was followed by Belgian Katrien Verstuyft, Kate and Gillian. With about 1km to go, Sanders laid down the gauntlet and pulled away from the group. She held onto her lead to win the race in a time of 2:12:08, followed by Fischer in second place and Verstuyft in third.


“There were two titles up for grabs today, so that made it extra tough, and with the foreign girls racing it made it more exciting,” said Sanders. “I’m still in my winter training, and I didn’t taper for the race, so I am very pleased with the result. I stopped my law job a year ago to train for the Olympics and try to get into the squad. I have some races coming up and will know by the beginning of June if I made the team.”


The ITU Triathlon Premium African Cup was superbly organised with great racing and nail-biting finishes, living up to its reputation as one of the best races on the calendar.




1. Franz Loeschke               1:57:26             Germany

2. Frederic Belaubre            1:57:53             France

3. Wian Sullwald                  1:59:13             South Africa

4. Anton Ruanova                1:59:34             Spain

5. Mehdi Essadiq                1:59:46             Morocco

6. Wikus Weber                   1:59:57             South Africa

7. Erhard Wolfaardt             2:00:02             South Africa

8. Henri Schoeman              2:00:39             South Africa

9. Etienne Diemunsch          2:01:17             France

10. Sylwester Kuster            2:02:29             Poland


1. Gillian Sanders                2:12:08             South Africa

2. Carlyn Fischer                 2:12:27             South Africa

3. Katrien Verstuyft              2:12:41             Belgium

4. Kate Roberts                   2:13:09             South Africa

5. Sarah Fladung                 2:13:37             Germany

6. Andrea Steyn                  2:14:11             South Africa

7. Kaisa Lehtonen                2:14:33             Finland

8. Vicky van der Merwe        2:14:44             South Africa

9. Yi Wang                          2:15:03             China

10. Yi Zhang                       2:16:30             China