There may have been an upset in the Joburg leg of the race, but the inaugural Cell C Tour of South Africa cycling race had plenty of action to keep riders and fans happy.
BRITISH cyclist Kristian House of Team Rapha Condor Sharp was the overall winner of the inaugural Cell C Tour of South Africa, pocketing R500 000 in prize money in the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) sanctioned race.
Kristian House celebrates as he crosses the finish lineKristian House celebrates as he crosses the finish lineSouth African rider Johann Rabie of Team Bonitas came second, two minutes and nine seconds behind House and two seconds ahead of Daryl Impie of MTN Qhubeka. He was named the most consistent top daily finisher and the top African rider in the race.
The Cell C Tour of South Africa started on 19 February in Joburg’s northern neighbour, Tshwane, winding through 167 kilometres along the Magaliesberg and through the Cradle of Humankind, before finishing on Witkoppen Road, outside Montecasino in Fourways.
A 2.2 category race, the cycle tour took eight days and seven stages to complete, covering an overall distance of about 1 066 kilometres. In all, 19 teams from 14 countries participated.
On the second day, the 156km roundabout route was supposed to go through Roodepoort and Soweto, past FNB Stadium and the Johannesburg CBD, and then back to the north. However, the last section of the route, from Rosebank back to Fourways, was suspended because of safety concerns.
“The race started off well, leaving Montecasino towards Dobsonville and Meadowlands,” said Barry Mocke, chief executive of Cycling South Africa.
“Attacks were fast and furious and all the ingredients for a superb day of racing were there. It was, however, in the region of Rosebank, after approximately an hour and 30 minutes of the race, where the first traffic incident occurred where motorists were forcing themselves on to the route at the risk of riders, marshals and spectators.
“By the time the riders reached Rivonia Road and after two further similar incidents, the race had to be suspended for the safety of everyone concerned.”
Cyclists compete in the Tour of South AfricaCyclists compete in the Tour of South AfricaThe third day was for rest and transfer, with riders driven to Port Elizabeth. Cycling continued on Tuesday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. The route took the riders through Addo Elephant National Park and back to Port Elizabeth before finishing in Summerstrand on the beachfront, 160 kilometres later.
The ultimate stage started and finished in Paarl, the largest town in the Cape Winelands. The 104km, 10-lap circuit stage opened with a one lap neutral start. The first major breakaway of the day came in the third lap when a nine-man group broke clear of the leading pack.
MTN Qhubeka and Team Rapha Condor-Sharp were chasing from the peloton as they had no teammates in the breakaway group. The gap stayed at two minutes for about four laps when the peloton closed the 41 second advantage, bringing the race back together for a sprint finish. It ended on Saturday, 26 February.
The Cell C Tour of South Africa followed the Tour Down Under in Australia and was before major cycling events in Europe. It was supported by Cycling South Africa, the Department of Sport and Recreation and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee; was backed by Primedia Sport; and was sponsored by mobile network company, Cell C.
One of its objectives was to showcase South Africa’s heritage, landscape, culture and diversity. “The inclusion in the route of the Witwatersrand ridge, the mine dumps, Soweto as well as the CBD and Nelson Mandela Bridge are an important part of our history and heritage,” said Cycling South Africa.
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