The 2016 South African National Road Championships saw Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka put in a clinical team performance with Jaco Venter being crowned the new National Champion of South Africa.
It was a hotly contested race in every sense with riders having to deal with temperatures of around 40 degrees centigrade in Westville, Durban. From the gun there were numerous attacks, most of them initiated by the Dimension Data for Qhubeka World Tour and Continental team riders. It was only after 50km of racing that the main break of the day was formed though.
Our defending champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg was joined by teammate Songezo Jim, Calvin Beneke (Panda) and Kent Main (Road Cover). The quartet had built up a lead of 7 minutes with around 70km to go, before Daryl Impey (Orica-Greenedge) and Louis Meintjes (Lampre-Merida) began what was in essence, a 2-man time trial chase effort with the rest of the peloton sitting on.
The peloton drastically thinned out under the pressure of Impey and Meintjes. The break felt the effects of the heat and the increased tempo behind too, as first Main dropped and then Jim also returned back to the peloton. Impey and Meintjes kept a consistently hard tempo going, reducing the advantage with each passing kilometer until the gap to Janse van Rensburg and Beneke was at 2’00” with 30km to go.
At this point, the attacks from the Dimension Data for Qhubeka World Tour and Continental riders in the now 25 rider chase group began. Meintjes and Impey couldn’t follow the violent surges in acceleration by our African Team riders but would just claw the attackers back on each occasion until even Janse van Rensburg and Beneke were caught with 14km to go.
Dimension Data for Qhubeka would not stop attacking though and it was at 10km to go that Venter countered a move by our continental rider Jayde Julius, going solo in his bid for glory. Glory he would eventually have as Impey and Meintjes were all but spent. Our recently crowned u23 national time trial champion, Stefan de Bod put in attack with 4km to go, to cross the line alone in 2nd overall but as the new u23 National Champion of South Africa.
The select group sprint for 3rd was won by Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, giving Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka the top 3 steps on the overall podium. Ryan Gibbons from our continental team also took 2nd place in the u23 race.
Jaco Venter – Rider
Obviously it is an awesome feeling to be national champion. I have tried for a few years to win the championships so it is good to finally have done it. At the start of the race we all had a green card from the team to go for the win so the team was really motivated. In the beginning we worked really well, we were always on the front foot and in all the moves. Jacques and Songezo got into a good move that I thought was going to stay away but Daryl and Louis were just so strong. From there we just had to take control again with a few attacks, I went with about 10km to go, got a gap and just gave it my all. It worked and I am really happy to have taken the win.
Doug Ryder – Team Principle
Jaco was amazing. It is so nice that you got a guy who is always riding in support of someone else, who wins. Then to have Stefan jump away there at the end and Reinie take it from the bunch, it was a fantastic day for us. Daryl and Louis though, they were absolutely incredible and made the racing really hard.