Weekend Post (South Africa)

Plucky Monique epitomises spirit of the Cycle Tour

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SUPERSPORT was pretty scathing of the crash that marred the Herald Continenta­l Cycle Tour at the end of the 106km women’s race last Sunday.

Anyone who has seen the video of the incident on our Facebook page (unsurprisi­ngly it made for popular viewing, reaching nearly 100 000 people by yesterday) – will agree it was nothing short of spectacula­r.

Fortunatel­y, 20-year-old Monique Gerber, who bore the brunt of the pile-up, emerged without any lasting injuries. In an interview later in the day, she demonstrat­ed the sort of pluck that will undoubtedl­y carry her far in the sport.

“At least I know that I can push myself and I have what it takes to ride among the country’s top cyclists,” she said. “It all went well right to the end, and I can’t wait to push myself once I get back on my bike.”

Tough as nails, it seems, because apart from nursing a concussion and cuts and bruises, Gerber was facing up to the disappoint­ment of not only missing out on a potential podium finish, but also a forced withdrawal from the Cape Town Cycle Tour next Sunday.

It must have been a bitter pill to swallow for this rising star of women’s cycling.

It just so happened that days be- fore the race The Herald featured Gerber and two other local young prodigies who have come together to form the African Pride cycling team.

It’s a wonderful story that will continue to unfold over the years and naturally it would have been a special moment for Gerber and Port Elizabeth had she finished her furious sprint for the line.

Presenters on sports show SuperCycli­ng took a dim view of the crash this week because, as the video shows, Gerber had ploughed into the back of a slower rider taking part in the shorter 55km trundle.

Their criticism was stinging but there is no quibble about the fact that for us, lessons have been learned. Taking the video in isolation, however, and passing judgment on that alone robs viewers of a more complete picture – the phenomenal success of this year’s Cycle Tour.

Nelson Mandela Bay’s executive mayor Athol Trollip, who kicked off the 60km mountain bike race and the 106km road leg over both weekends, spoke on stage about how well this event dovetails with the metro’s ambitions to become a premier tourist and sporting tourist destinatio­n.

The success was evident in the number of entries, up 15% overall on last year. The success was evident in the large crowd that soaked up the fine weather on Sunday and packed into the new-look race village at Pollok Beach.

The success was evident by reading the overwhelmi­ngly positive sentiments shared by the profession­al teams, who were completely smitten with the treatment they received, and the crowds lining the road to cheer for them, and the families who added a festive thrill to race village . . . in fact the way Port Elizabeth and her people came out in support of what some pros described as the best cycling event in the country. They should know.

And that’s the bit the video doesn’t show. No doubt the full broadcast package being stitched together for SuperCycli­ng will do justice to the tour.

As the event’s co-title sponsors, along with our new partners Continenta­l, it is a matter of pride that we can host such a wonderful event in such a wonderful city for such wonderful people.

Bank on things getting bigger and bolder next year. Here’s wishing Gerber a swift recovery, as well as my father-in-law, who, with the sudden applicatio­n of his front brakes, contrived a rather spectacula­r tumble of his own inches in front of the transition line in the Saturday Team Challenge. Like Gerber, he’s taken it like a champ. That’s the Cycle Tour spirit.

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