On Sunday 15th of June the final race of the Copa14 road cycling competition was held in Namaacha. The race, organised by the Clube de Ciclismo de Moçambique (Est.2005), is part of the CopaCiclismo series of races which has been organised on an annual basis since 2006, a year after the Club was formed. The series of races is inspired by major international races such as the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Paris Roubaix (Hell of the North). Every year between 8 and up to 21 races are staged with each individual race yielding a winner but with points going to a general classification for an overall winner, sprinter, king of the mountain and best young rider.
The Twin Peaks race is the hardest race of the Copa and is generally one of the last races to be held. This year the course was shortened from the traditional 150km to 105km, but in no way was this race any easier, if anything it was harder. The shortened distance meant racers started with a very high pace, decending from Namaacha Town at a furious pace, which once onto the flats was hovering around 40km/hour. The race was escorted by the Municipal Police and followed by several race support vehicles with a "broom wagon" behind the last rider and sponsored by NovaVida (suppliers of hardware tools and building materials).
After a short neutral zone to get past the steepest part of the descent the riders let rip with Vanessa Knighton pulling the peloton along. The main bunch stayed mostly together through the descent with only a few riders unable to latch on. The first sprint point came fast just before the Goba-Namaacha turnoff, won comfortably by Artur Simoes and followed by Miguel Duarte witha furious lead-out. The pace quietened down for a quick breather and then again went up on the hilly section between the turn-off and the next sprint point just before the 10km to Goba Fronteira. The second sprint was again won by Artur Simoes in decisive fashion followed again by Miguel but the bunch soon encountered the 10% ramp up to Goba and immediately made itself felt with the peleton strung out and broken into pieces.
Miguel took a small group with him including James, Grichone and Betinho but soon it was just Miguel and James as the other riders tried to limit their losses and ride in their zone. Soon James couldn't take the pace and Miguel summited on his own to take the first KOM of the day, followed by Betinho who is back to his climbing form, and a very strong Grichone in third. Emil was fourth at the Kom and joined the other riders ahead to try and chase down Miguel. All but two of the original starters made the climb to Goba showing that the level of riding in the Club has improved considerably.
The return leg saw an increasingly hot day with a headwind complicating matters and making life tough for the riders. Three more didn't make it to the end but even so with such a hard race it was surprising that so many stuck it out for so long. Thankfully Rory McBride and Tony Arão were out along the course with water to keep the riders hydrated.
Miguel managed to maintain his lead, widening his gap at the top of Goba from 2:40 ms to 14:07 ms by the end of the race. Emil managed to ditch his companions on the Namaacha climb and took a convincing second place. A few minutes behind him Grichone took third place and Betinho came in fourth, showing that he's no longer Mr 60km, and can again manage a longer race.
The first lady across the line was Vanessa Rosenfeld who came in 9th overall and was 3rd in the 40-49 category, so an impressive performance as a cyclist and as a woman riding with the men, really exceptional. No doubt a trip to the Italian Alps may have helped in her training program.
Taking part in this race is it's own reward. Finishing it is a real achievement. Getting on the podium is a really hard slog! Congrats to all those who took part, even if they got to the line via mechanical assistance.. For all partipants we had a t-shirt waiting, sponsored by NovaVida. Thanks Werner!
A very warm thanks to all the people, sponsors and institutions that helped make this race possible.:
Municipio de Namaacha
Paulo Khushaldas (race director)
Federação Moçambicana de Ciclismo
Piratas do Pau
Full results below:
Age group winners
Artur Simoes 1st
James Garrick 2nd
No riders in the 23-29 or 50+ categories finished the race