On the western coast of Mauritius is a village called Tamarin. It has the most favourable weather on the Indian Ocean island. Wind and kite surfers from all over the world converge on this piece of coastline to pursue their passions. Mountain bikers can now be added to the list of visitors.
The last stage of the 6th Tour of Mauritius was a moderate 30km. Yannick Lincoln looked to be untouchable. The race leader was over 26 minutes ahead of second place Gil Guillaumin, but third place was not so secure.
Immediately after leaving the Mauritian sporting playground of Tamarin, veteran cyclist Georget Burel missed the select chasing group. He was sitting third on GC after a solid ride in Saturday's 85km stage. Burel rode steadily through all the stages of the tour, and he performed best in the 85km stage.
"I was focusing on this stage," said Burel. "In a long distance race, I knew this course would decide the top riders."
Yet Burel's podium place was now under siege from a fast-pacing Emmanuel. With only 10 minutes to spare, Burel's didn't realize the magnitude of being left behind.
Up front, the leader stamped his authority on the tour. The route traced Saturday's descent, only this time it went in reverse. After the sugar cane splattered climb, at 14km into the stage, Lincoln was already 1:50 ahead of Guillaumin, Christian Emmanuel and Cedric Passee. Lincoln powered his way over the course. He was ever attentive in the final stage.
He revealed later that he was nervous. "In mountain biking, until you cross the finish line anything can happen. You can break a chain, have a flat, or you can take a wrong road."
Burel, however was playing with fire. His pedaling, although fluid, lacked his usual power. On the other hand, Guillaumin and Lincoln had nothing to fear from the battle-weary contingent remaining. The top two places were secure. A natural pecking order had already been established.
Once Lincoln passed over the plateau and the Curepipe chouchou fields were in his sights, he knew the Tour of Mauritius was in the bag. The Curepipe Starlight Sports Club welcomed his arrival with a checkered flag. This is Lincoln's training ground. He lives in the town of Curepipe close to the crater Trou aux Cerfs.
Before Lincoln can settle down he will need to pack his bags for the next milestone. His sights are set on the African Road Racing championships, especially the time trial. "I would like to do a good time trial. Mountain biking and time trialling are very good together."
Burel finished comfortably 4:37 behind Emmanuel, and he said he was always in control of his podium placing. "I was not worried about Emmanuel. It was a short stage, not enough to take back the time."
Second place rider Guillamin rode consistently to wrap up his best placing yet. An exuberant Guillaumin said, "It was a big surprise."
Victory in this tour has prepared Lincoln well for Africa's best. What he will take with him is race-winning condition. Lincoln will swap his sugar cane and chouchou fields of Mauritius for the altitude and asphalt of Namibia. He will also need to switch a mountain bike for a time trial bike. It is a transition that Lincoln will make in his usual approach - dedicated, focused and with panache.
Burel dominated the veteran's category and the junior field was won by a promising Olivier Le Court.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|3||Christian Emmanuel (ACPR)|
|4||Cedric Passee (Standard Bank)||0:07:35|
|5||Gil Guillaumin (ACPR)||0:08:46|
|7||Georget Burel (ACPR)||0:12:12|
|8||Armand Le Court De Billot||0:12:39|
|10||Dany Vogel (Germany)||0:12:51|
|12||Andreas Freiter (Germany)||0:13:49|
|16||Olivier Le Court||0:22:33|
|19||Arnaud De Commarmond||0:25:05|
|22||Daniel Chaussalet (ACPR)||0:27:42|
|25||Jean Philippe (Jnr) Tyack||0:39:41|
|26||Jean Philippe Tyack|
|30||Sully Robert (ACPR)||0:51:06|
|31||Stephane Payet (ACPR)||0:51:49|
|37||YAN De Robillard||1:03:44|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|2||Gil Guillaumin (ACPR)||0:35:35|
|3||Georget Burel (ACPR)||0:49:47|
|4||Christian Emmanuel (ACPR)||0:54:54|
|5||Cedric Passee (Standard Bank)||1:11:32|
|8||Andreas Freiter (Germany)||1:19:13|
|9||Dany Vogel (Germany)||1:19:48|
|12||Armand Le Court De Billot||1:49:07|
|13||Olivier Le Court||2:00:40|
|14||Arnaud De Commarmond||2:03:57|
|19||Stephane Payet (ACPR)||2:44:13|
|20||Daniel Chaussalet (ACPR)||2:58:59|
|24||Jean Philippe (Jnr) Tyack||3:31:02|
|25||Jean Philippe Tyack||3:32:49|
|26||Sully Robert (ACPR)||3:56:08|