Fouche claims third win for SA at Mzansi Tour

Herman Fouche of Bonitas Pro Cycling won a dramatic bunch sprint to claim victory in the 201km third stage of the Mzansi Tour powered by CATHSSETA in Vanderbjilpark on Thursday afternoon.

Fouche beat Austrian Jan Sokol (Syngery Baku) and Nolan Hoffman (Abantu) on the penultimate day of the five-day Mzansi Tour, which ends on Saturday with a criterium at the Blue Hills Estate in Midrand. Fouche’s victory was the third stage win by a South African on the tour as hometown riders continued their domination of the race.

Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka) held on to the overall lead he first took when he won the first stage in Clarens on Wednesday. He is 43 seconds ahead of his teammate, Louis Meintjes, who won the second stage on Thursday. Janse van Rensburg also leads the CATHSSETA African Riders competition, while Meintjes controls the Europcar Young Rider category. As there will be no Compendium King of the Mountains points on offer on the last day, barring any mishaps, Meintjes has secured the polka-dot jersey for the tour. Hoffman’s third place was enough to put him in first place in the Echelon Events Points category.

The longest stage of the Mzansi Tour was also the most active, with attacks as soon as the riders had left the neutral zone outside the start in Bethlehem. A break of five riders finally got free after the second hot spot at 85km. They included Willie Smit (Vini Nippo), Phillip Lavery (Synergy Baku), Jayde Julius (Bonitas) and Isiaka Cisse (African Mixed Team) and Patrick Kos (Airgas). They built up a gap of two minutes and 45 seconds on the main peloton before Smit went on a solo break with 15km left, but was caught with just over three kilometres remaining. There was a crash in the final corner with 1.2km left to run, but Fouche managed to avoid it.

“Normally when we race a South African race, which is usually over 100km, the last 5km is hectic, but today the last 20km were flat box and hectic the whole way,” said Fouche. “In the last 5km, all of the teams decided to sort their lead outs, but luckily I’ve got a great lead-out team.

“Luthando (Kaka) took me into the last corner, with just over a kilometre to go. HB Kruger took me basically to the line. At first I didn’t think I was going to catch the guys who were in front of me, but it turned out my speed on the day was enough. I started my sprint with about 300-metres out. As HB started to go hard, one big buy tried to bump me in the sprint, but that was good because in the sprint then I can come off his wheel.”

The lead in the green points jersey was just reward for Hoffman, who has been the most aggressive rider on the Tour thus far. His Abuntu teammates had worked hard to keep him in contention.

“I used up all my guys to control the race, so everyone was spent. I had to do the sprint by myself. It was a challenging run into the finish. It was a drag all the way up to the finish. I managed to pull myself back up there, but I ran out of road. It was a close third.

“We always came in here to try to get a jersey, and to get a sprint jersey is incredible. It was not an easy past three days. They had to ride really hard to secure the points and I’m proud.”

The final day of the Mzansi Tour will consist of 15 laps of a 5.3km circuit at Blue Hills Estate in Midrand. It has been planned as a festival of cycling, with amateurs riding on the same circuit before the professionals start the final stage of the tour at 2pm.

The Mzansi Tour, powered by CATHSSETA, runs from April 8-12.

STAGES

  • April 8: Prologue - Emmaremtia Dam (5,5km)
  • April 9: Stage 1 – Golden Gate to Clarens (140km)
  • April 10: Stage 2 – Clarens to Golden Gate National Park (159km)
  • April 11: Stage 3 – Bethlehem to Vanderbijlpark (201km)
  • April 12: Stage 4 – Blue Hills Estate Circuit (79,5km - 15 laps of 5.3km circuit)

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Cycling South Africa’s National Team Manager, Owen Botha, said: “We had planned to get right to the finish today. We wanted to protect Carl (Pasio) and keep him in 5th place in the GC, and benefit Ryan (Felgate) our team sprinter for the finish. We paced in the front today and they rode like champions, side by side with Team MTN-Qhubeka. I’m very proud of my boys. With 1.2km to go, there was a 90-degree corner into the last straight and as we hit the corner there was some loose sand in the road and some of the top contenders came down. Unfortunately Ryan came down hard. Ryan is a true champion and these last 2 days of the tour, today and tomorrow, would have really suited him.”

Ryan suffered a mild concussion and will be spending the night in hospital under observation. We wish Ryan a speedy recovery!

Summary of Results – 2014 Mzansi Tour – Stage 3

(Bethlehem – Reitz – Heilbron – Vanderbijlpark)

CATHSSETA General Classification

  1. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Team MTN-Qhubeka) RSA 11h32’06”
  2. Louis Meintjes (Team MTN-Qhubeka) RSA +43”
  3. Merhawi Kudus (Team MTN-Qhubeka) ERI +01’23”
  4. Daniel Teklehaimanot (Team MTN-Qhubeka) ERI +01’37”
  5. Carl Pasio (SA National Team) RSA +01’47”
  6. Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT) GBR +01’57”
  7. Richard Handley (Rapha Condor JLT) GBR +02’07”
  8. Emanuel Buchmann (Rad-Net Rose Team) GER +02’09”
  9. Dylan Girdlestone (Bonitas Pro Cycling) RSA +02’18”
  10. Metkel Tewedeberhan (WCC Africa Mixed Team) ERI +02’41”

Team General Classification

  1. Team MTN-Qhubeka 34h25’17
  2. Rapha Condor JLT +06’58”
  3. Africa Mixed Team +08’30”
  4. Team Europcar SA +10’48”
  5. South African National Team +12’24”

Echelon Events Points Classification – GC

  1. Nolan Hoffman (Team Abantu) RSA [16]
  2. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Team MTN-Qhubeka) RSA [11]
  3. Louis Meintjes (Team MTN-Qhubeka) RSA [10]
  4. Herman Fouche (Bonitas Pro Cycling) RSA [10]
  5. Merhawi Kudus (Team MTN-Qhubeka) ERI [8]

Compendium King of the Mountains – GC

  1. Louis Meintjes (Team MTN-Qhubeka) RSA [16]
  2. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Team MTN-Qhubeka) RSA [14]
  3. Merhawi Kudus (Team MTN-Qhubeka) ERI [10]
  4. Jan Sokol (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) AUT [4]
  5. Hendrick Kruger (Bonitas Pro Cycling) RSA [4]

Europcar Best Young Rider – GC

  1. Louis Meintjes (Team MTN-Qhubeka) RSA 11h32’49”
  2. Merhawi Kudus (Team MTN-Qhubeka) ERI +40”
  3. Hugh Carthy (Rapha Condor JLT) GBR +01’14”
  4. Emanuel Buchmann (Rad-Net Rose Team) GER +01’26”
  5. Metkel Tewedeberhan (WCC Africa Mixed Team) ERI +01’58”

CATHSSETA African Rider – GC

  1. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Team MTN-Qhubeka) 11h32’06”
  2. Louis Meintjes (Team MTN-Qhubeka) +43”
  3. Merhawi Kudus (Team MTN-Qhubeka) +01’23”
  4. Daniel Teklehaimont (Team MTN-Qhubeka) +01’37”
  5. Carl Pasio (SA National Team) +01’47”

Issued on behalf of the Mzansi Tour

Photo: Sonoko Tanaka/Mzansi Tour