22 April 2013
South African cycling star Robert Hunter, riding for the South African National Team, claimed an impressive victory in the inaugural Mzansi Tour, which finished at Montecasino in Johannesburg on Sunday.
His win in the general classification was built upon a superb solo effort in the second stage – at 189 kilometres, the longest of the race – which left him almost six minutes clear of the second placed rider.
Hunter kept up the pressure throughout and ultimately finished the race five minutes and 56 seconds ahead of second-placed Julien Antomarchi.
Antomarchi was the only man apart from Hunter to wear the leader’s yellow jersey in the race, after edging out the South African ace for victory on the first stage.
“I feel really good. I’m happy to have won this tour because it’s been a great week of racing and I’m happy with how it has turned out,” Hunter told the South African Press Association (Sapa) after securing the title.
“I’m really proud with how my South African team has performed after we came here as the underdogs.
“They rode themselves out of their skins to make sure that they can help me as much as they can.”
Westvaal-BMC’s Dylan Girdlestone captured the 123-kilometre final stage, which started and ended at Montecasino. Hichen Chaabane of VCS took second place, four seconds off the pace, with Waylon Woolcock of Team Bonitas coming home in third, a further nine seconds back.
“I feel amazing. It’s my biggest career win,” Girdlestone said after the race.
The weekend began well for Team Nippo-De Rosa’s Mauro Richeze, who claimed the 149 kilometre third stage win from Witbank to Mamelodi on Friday, after a sprint finish.
He crossed the finishing line in three hours, 19 minutes and 51 seconds, edging out Germany’s Lucas Liss of Rad-Net Rose and South African track ace Nolan Hoffman of Tasol-GT for the honours.
It was a tightly contested stage, with only 20 seconds separating the first 55 riders.
Hunter, meanwhile, played it safe and kept his lead in the general classification steady at five minutes and 50 seconds over Antomarchi.
On Saturday, the fourth stage covered 145 kilometres from Hartbeespoort to the Union Buildings. At least it was supposed to do so, but a late route change was necessary after the Tshwane Metro Police failed to provide sufficient support for the route through Pretoria; Tanya Harford, one of the directors of Echelon Events, said the Police had not honoured a contract they had signed.
Argentina’s Richeze rose to the occasion once again, sneaking ahead of Hunter right on the line to take the stage win in four hours, two minutes and 43 seconds, while Nolan Hoffman placed third.
Apart from his victory in the general classification, Hunter also won the points’ classification and the best African rider’s title.
Tasol-GT’s David Maree was crowned the King of the Mountains, while JC Nel of the MTN Qhubeka Feeder team finished as the Best Young Rider.
Fedgroup-Itec claimed the Team Classification, with La Pomme Marseille in second and Team Nippo-De Rosa in third.
Stage Five Results
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