Blast from the past: Bill Rowan wins first of what grows into ...

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Blast from the past: Bill Rowan wins first of what grows into Comrades

Today in SA sports history: May 24

Sports reporter

Today in SA sports history: May 24

1921 — Bill Rowan wins the first edition of the Comrades Marathon, completing the course of Pietermaritzburg to Durban in 8 hrs 59 min. The race was staged on Empire Day, May 24, for the first 30 years. Arthur Newton won the first of his five titles in 1922, while Frances Hayward became the first female winner in 1923.

1979 — Alan van Heerden becomes the first SA cyclist to win a stage on a Grand Tour, taking the seventh leg in the Giro d’Italia. “The Van”, as the 25-year-old Peugeot rider was known, was a surprise winner, lying 85th in the overall classification. But he stayed with the leading group throughout the 252km stage — the longest of the tour — and then went with the decisive break 15km from the end. He edged Italians Salvatore Maccali and Sergio Santimaria in a sprint finish, though all were given the same 6hr 42 min 50 sec time.   ..

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