The Cape Argus Cycle Tour 2013: Disappointed But Not Defeated

by Ashleigh Moolman Pasio

I mentioned in my last blog that success in cycling comes with a lot of disappointment! Often your results don’t reflect your efforts. The winner of a race isn’t always the strongest, fastest, or sometimes even the smartest rider on the day. When it comes down to it, only one rider crosses the finish line first and wins the race, regardless if the second person is a spilt second or 5 minutes behind; nevertheless, I don’t necessarily believe that there is only one winner in a cycling race.

Every year I race in the Argus Cycle Tour, the world’s largest individually timed race and the big local favourite in South Africa, I always go full out. I’m often criticized for working too hard during this particular race because I always ride from the front, partially because it is the safest place, but also because I just can’t sit back in the bunch and accept that it’s a sprinter’s race.

Typical of Cape Town, the wind on race day wasn’t ideal and didn’t favour a breakaway, but I used every single opportunity I could to try and force a break. I attacked on all the climbs and rode aggressively from the front the entire race. One day, I have faith, the conditions will be right and my attempts to get away will succeed however, this was not the year!

As the main bunch, with only six women remaining, raced into the heart of Cape Town toward the finish, I positioned myself for the sprint. When we were just outside the 1km mark, I found myself pulling breaks and visions of defending my title diminished as I got held up behind a crash that took down my teammate Sharon Laws. I ended up crossing the line in 5th.  Sharon didn’t cross the line at all and is still in hospital with serious injuries. Like I said, sometimes the results of a race don’t reflect the effort given.

On the other hand, the podium was filled with previous race winners, a testament to the representation of talent at the race. Anriette Shoeman took the win with Cherise Stander and Jennie Stenerhag respectively taking second and third. I’m happy for all who podiumed, and especially for Anriette who’s win on Sunday made it her 7th Argus title.

I am disappointed with the outcome, of course, but I raced with determination and strength and I gained the physical and mental benefits of that. I am also reenergized from the amazing Capetonian fans that cheered us along the whole route! I am definitely heading to Europe stronger and more hungry after last weekend so, even though I may not have won the race this year, I don’t feel like I lost either.

“Disappointments are just God’s way of saying: “I’ve got something better”. Be patient, live life, have faith.”

Thoughts and prayers go out to my brave teammate Sharon Laws, who I hope has a speedy recovery!