“I walk away knowing that the training I’ve been doing has definitely improved my level above where I’ve been previously, and I also have an idea of what I still need to work more on.”
Oberholzer said the 20km time-trial on Thursday was her first real ITT as a stand-alone event, not part of a tour, and on a race-specific bike.
“We had decided on a pace I wanted to try and ride at, but as I rolled down the start ramp my power meter and Garmin didn’t work. I tried adjusting it in the first 1km but quickly realised I was wasting time.
“I decided to put it out of my mind and just ride on feel, which wasn’t easy to do.”
Oberholzer added that when Ashleigh Moolman Pasio caught her at the turnaround, she knew the latter had gone out hard, so Oberholzer decided to use her as a pacemaker on the way back.
“Towards the finish I could see I was gaining ground on her a bit and as I still felt okay I decided to try and catch her again.
“I was very happy with the fact that I could fight back and eventually cross the line just two seconds ahead of her, which meant she won by just under one minute. I couldn’t have asked for much more.
“The heat was the biggest obstacle. We prepared well for it though by having enough ice packs and cold water. I also shortened my warm-up a bit.”
She said the 104km road race was a bit trickier as there were no real teams to dictate the racing and it came down to individual riders.
“Kudos to the Customized Cycling Team and Kerry Jonker who raced positively. A break or two went up the road but never gained substantial time.
“Ashleigh and I put the hammer down on the only little hill on the course, as well as the drags afterwards, but unfortunately on those sections the rest of the riders decided to sit in and then chase back on the easy parts of the route.”
She said it ended up in a reduced bunch sprint and she wanted to wait as it was slightly uphill and she had two good sprinters on her wheel who she did not want to give a perfect lead out to.
“Unfortunately I waited too long and Ashleigh opened the sprint first and took a well-deserved win.
“Obviously you’re a bit disappointed, especially in the road race, but in all honesty Ashleigh was stronger than me on the day and then I’m happy that the result reflected that.”
Oberholzer said she was very grateful that there was the opportunity to race a national champs this year as she knew the organisers had worked with limited time and resources.
“I do however think that a national champs route can be more accessible and a lot harder in terms of terrain and distance. I think we need to strive to be at a European standard in terms of the above factors to improve the level of racing, even more importantly so in an Olympic year.”
In terms of the elite women’s field, Oberholzer said Moolman Pasio was naturally her strongest competition.
“It’s actually great for us local riders to have her come race as it gives us a glimpse of the level we need to aim for.
“Young Frances [Janse van Rensburg] also showed herself to be a good racer and I’m excited to see what she does in the future,” said Oberholzer, referring to the 19-year-old who won the U23 ITT and road race.
The 33-year-old Oberholzer announced at the end of last year that she will ride for the Spanish Bizkaia-Durango team for parts of her 2020 season.
“I’m currently in Benidorm in Spain with my team on a training camp. It’s been great meeting everyone and getting all our kit and equipment.
“Nationals gave me a small confidence boost – actually more a nod that we are on the right track. Now to lift it another level while in Europe.”