The 33rd Dis-Chem Ride for Sight was held in near perfect weather conditions on Sunday 20 February, with cyclists starting and finishing at Boksburg City Stadium.
The road race saw a surprisingly large field despite the on-going coronavirus pandemic as nearly 2,500 passionate cyclists and loyal event supporters lined up to tackle this Cape Town Cycle Tour 2023 seeding event.
The fast and favourable conditions meant that the bunch was unable to split themselves from any of the big sprinters, which set up a thrilling sprint finish.
Sadly, the usual enthusiastic spectators were not there to see the racing spectacle as they were unable to attend the event due to Covid-19 regulations that limit event attendance and restrict capacity at venues.
Return of the sprint finish
In the men’s race, the event went to a full bunch finish for the first time in many years. With the main pack still together after a tough 116km, the best bunch sprinter of the lot, Josh van Wyk – a renowned Velodrome track expert – beat out the rest of the top contenders in the dash for the cash.
The fast and tricky finish suited Van Wyk, who is a multiple SA champion and holds the record at the Paarl Boxing Day 25 miler, at 53 minutes 11 seconds, despite having to cover two and a half times his favourite distance.
Pre-race favourite Gustav Basson rode brilliantly and was relegated to second by a mere bicycle length in a narrowly fought finish to the flying van Wyk. Third place went to the hardest worker in the peloton, David Maree.
A small but high-quality field lined up for the women’s race was. Pre-race favourite Carla Oberholzer – the bronze medallist at the recent SA Champs – secured yet another victory.
Oberholzer was too good for the opposition and out-sprinted second-placed Lize-Ann Louw, with Michel Botha placing third.
All other categories were also hotly contested, with many bunch finishes throughout the morning. Jacque Fullard, a previous race winner and Vets A category winner, won the Vets B category ahead of David Cooke.
All riders enjoyed another superbly organised and presented race. The prestige of this event means that it is rapidly emerging as one of the country’s most important single-day bike races.
And the support from the riding community helps headline sponsor, Dis-Chem Pharmacies support worthy causes such as Retina South Africa, which is the beneficiary of this event. Proceeds help to fund research and upliftment projects in the fight against retinal blindness.
Over the last 33 years the event has raised over R10m and ensured South African patients will have access to emerging treatments.
Full race results are available at www.racetec.co.za.
Race report from Johnny Koen.