Photo: Capcha Photography
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Mzansi Tour as Jacques Janse van Rensburg took the stage 1 victory. Along with the stage honours, Janse van Rensburg also earned the race leaders Yellow jersey, Points jersey, King of the Mountains jersey and the leading African rider jersey.
It was after 70km of racing that the race winning break of Janse van Rensburg, Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT), Carl Pasio (RSA National Team), Nolan Hoffman (Team Abantu), Matthew Brammeier (Synergy Baku) and Isiaka Cisse (WCCAfrica) jumped clear of the peleton.
The 6 riders were able to build up a lead of just over 4 minutes before the peleton tried to bring the escapees back. The peleton had the break down to 1’15” with 55km to go but Janse van Rensburg had other ideas and upped the pace in the break. This added impetus would see Hoffman, Cisse and Brammeier being dropped on Surrender Hill but the gap to the chasing group increased.
Coming into the final 15km Janse van Rensburg would not let up, ensuring the break would stay clear and decide the stage. In a great show of strength the MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung would proceed to then ride clear of his two breakaway companions in the final 4km to take the stage win solo. Handley and Pasio crossed the line in 2nd and 3rd respectively, 11 seconds after Janse van Rensburg.
Behind the 3 leaders, a splintered peleton charged up to the line with timing gaps separating most of the riders. Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) sprinted up the final finishing climb to claim 4th ,7 seconds ahead of his teammate Daniel Teklehaimanot and the remnants of the peleton. The slight time gap for Kudus would ensure the Eritrean pulled on the leading young rider jersey at the end of the stage to cap off a highly successful day for the team.
Sports Director – Douglas Ryder
“This is a very important race for us and to take the stage win along with nearly all the leaders jersey’s is just a perfect start. Being the biggest team here at the Mzansi Tour there has definitely been a lot of pressure on the guys to perform and today they rose to the occasion so i am very happy with the victory.”
Rider – Jacques Janse van Rensburg
“This was my first victory in quite a while and i’m really happy about it. I had surgery in October on a hiatus hernia and so i’m glad to back to my best form again. We were on camp here last week and we reconed the finish so i knew the final kicker well and where i would attack, my legs just felt the best out of the break and i could stay away to win.”
Stage 2 – Clarens > Golden Gate National Park (159km)
The races queen stage that ends with a mountain top finish in the Golden Gate National Park, not the toughest finishing climb around but enough to decide the overall classification.
Stage 3 – Bethlehem > Vanderbijlpark (201km)
A long but flat and fast stage. Definitely one for the sprinters, unless the wind picks up on the long straight roads.
Stage 4 – Blue Hills Estate Circuit (79,5km)
15 laps of 5.3km circuit, numerous corners will make a lot of accelerations quite taxing. A race for the strong sprinter.