Miller does the double

Alex Miller (right) with Drikus Coetzee. Photo: Helge Schütz

Alex Miller did the double by winning the Paratus Namibian 100km Cycle Classic Road Race yesterday as well as the 50km MTB Classic on Saturday.

It was the first time that Miller had won the road race, but he once again underlined his supremacy in the MTB race, winning it for the sixth time over the past seven years.

Yesterday’s road race went down to the wire with Miller pipping Drikus Coetzee by a split second after a sprint to the line. The two cyclists broke away from the leading peloton on the Daan Viljoen hills and pulled further away to finish more than five minutes ahead of the chasing pack. 

Miller started celebrating a bit prematurely, but he just managed to hold Coetzee off with both cyclists finishing in a time of two hours 32 minutes 46 seconds, while Brandon Plaatjies came third in 2:38:15, Denzel de Koe fourth in the same time and Xavier Papo fifth, one second behind.

It capped a great weekend for Miller after he dominated the MTB Classic on Saturday, finishing more than 10 minutes ahead of De Koe. Miller won the elite men’s race over 50km in 1:45:40, with De Koe coming second in 1:55:54 and Papo third in 1:57:24. 

“It was a bit too close for comfort at the end,  I think I sat up a little bit too soon and Drikus was closing in quickly, but I still managed to get it by a small margin,” Miller said after yesterday’s race. 

“It was a good day out on the bike – we managed to get away from the group just after we turned off the bypass to head up to Matchless Mine. We had a nice steady tempo up and turned around and carried on working well together till the end. It’s always nice to ride with Drikus, he’s still one of the strongest guys on the road, so I’m very happy and of course happy with the win yesterday as well, so it was a good weekend for me,” he added.

Coetzee congratulated Miller on his win and his sportsmanship. 

Drikus Coetzee and Alex Miller share a bottle of water. Photo: Helge Schütz

“Like always it’s fantastic to ride with Alex – we have such good sportsmanship between us and complementary riding styles. We rode comfortably out to Dobra and when we turned back I opened up a bit to split the bunch to about six guys and then I just told Alex let’s go. We pushed the tempo hard up the hills to open the main gap and then we worked nicely together till the finish line,” he said. 

“I must say, we are quite a strong team together, if we work together like this, and then at the end once again I had some fun at the sprint, but all in all it was very positive racing between each other and I’m happy with today’s result,” he added. 

Their sportsmanship was demonstrated at one of the final waterpoints, about 5km before the end, when Coetzee missed out on a water bottle, but Miller shared his drink with him.

“That’s what it’s about – you need to build these relationships with your other national team riders and obviously we all know Alex has great sportsmanship,” Coetzee said. 

“I showed them I want a bottle but they were not ready for me, so Alex took a bottle and I knew I could count on him to give me a sip, and it just shows our respect for each other as riders,” he added. 

Melissa Hinz (centre) with Risa Dreyer and Genevieve Weber. Photo: Helge Schütz

The women’s open 100km road race, meanwhile, also went down to the wire with Melissa Hinz winning the title for the second year in a row after beating Genevieve Weber in a sprint to the line. Hinz won in a time of 2:57:00, with Weber finishing one second behind and Risa Dreyer coming third in 2:57:17.

Hinz said her training went to plan.

“It was a relatively conservative pace until we hit the Daan Viljoen road and then we just kept the pace up and formed a breakaway group. At the Mathchless Mine we were four left – myself, Gen, Risa and Monique du Plessis, and then we hit it hard and opened the gap further,” she said. 

“It’s really nice to see how all my training has paid off – I just look at my times and stats and I know that I applied myself,” she said. 

Monique du Plessis won the elite women’s 50km MTB race in 2:10:17, followed by Weber in 2:11:48 and Irene Steyn in 2:15:23. 

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