Team Medscheme’s Arran Brown takes win in Cape Argus Tour

Gale force winds wreak havoc in Cape Town

Team Medscheme’s Arran Brown battled gale force winds to take the win in this year's Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.

Harsh conditions led to a record number of non-starters, with some 15,000 people deciding against a 110km trip over exposed mountains and rolling countryside.

The exposed flyover in Cape Town proved tricky to negotiate with a mass start, as winds threatened to blow riders all over the road. Organisers advised riders to dismount and walk. Winds were reported to have exceeded 140kmh halfway up the Smitswinkel climb.

This year's tour formed the final stage of the Giro del Capo, a four-stage UCI pro race, and it was the riders taking part in that event who led the Cape Argus bunch, with Brown taking the win from last year’s victor Robbie Hunter (Team Barloworld). The group sprint rolled in with an impressive time of 02:46:32.

UK team Rapha Condor had at least one rider in the top 10 in almost every stage of the Giro del Capo, just falling down in the Argus stage with Dan Craven and Kristian House in 12th and 13th places respectively.

London-based Jerone Walters achieved an impressive second place in the men’s invitational group at the Argus, putting him in 138th position overall, with 03:03:35, not far behind the pro peloton.

Much of the British interest surrounded the new HotChillee Challenge women’s team, who garnered a huge amount of media interest. The squad's Tanja Slater, a former professional GB triathlete and cyclist with the Raleigh Lifeforce team, came home ninth in the women’s elite group, with a time of 03:12:10.

“Racing in the breathtaking surroundings of Cape Point was incredible, and certainly made the race less painful," said Slater, who rides for Science in Sport back in the UK. "The South Africans made us so welcome and everyone we met was friendly and supportive of the HotChillee Challenge Team. Having experienced the Cycle Tour and the South African culture, I'm buzzing to return to improve on our women’s team performance."

Former Great Britain rider Nikki Harris, a late edition to the HotChillee team, came in 10th, just five seconds behind. Commonwealth Games medallist Emma Davies came in 29th with 3:21:00, while Argus veteran and Cape Town resident Penny Krohn was further down the standings, but still took first in her age group for an amazing 25th time in 03:33:36.

The team’s youngest member, Alice Monger-Godfrey, was blown off her bike at the start with team-mate Emma Davies, as well as suffering two punctures. Although the 19-year-old finished, her timing chip became dislodged during her crash and her time wasn’t recorded; a reflection of some of the challenges the riders had to go through on the day.

“I’ve ridden this cycle tour for eight years previously and I’ve never witnessed such adverse conditions," said Sven Thiele, owner of the HotChillee Challenge Team, who rode on a tandem with London-Paris Cycle Tour rider David Kirkby. "The sun was shining for most of the trip and Cape Town is a beautiful place to be, but anyone who finished this year deserves huge respect. I’m really proud of the HotChillee girls and how they’ve promoted the message of cycling." 

The Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour is now in its 31st year and claims to be the world’s biggest timed cycle event, with up to 40,000 participants. The next event is on 14 March 2010.

For full results from this year's race, click here.

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