After one of the most memorable and exciting days in South African cycle racing, Andrew Edwards from Team ACDC Luso launched a late attack in the closing kilometres of the stage to open up a sizeable gap and solo to victory on the 175-kilometre Queen Stage of the Tour de Limpopo from Tzaneen to Tzaneen on Tuesday.
In a perfectly timed attack, Edwards seized an opportunity in the final six kilometres to break away after a number of attacks within the final 10km had been immediately countered. When he launched ahead however, no one closed him down and the young 20-year-old put his head down to continue the charge to the finish line on his own, with the green jersey Gustav Basson (ProTouch Sports) not far behind but too far to close him down.
“There were a couple of attacks, but everyone was marked and then I saw an opportunity and took a gap but because I’m a bit of an unknown rider, nobody followed me. I wasn't sure if I had the legs to do it, but the move paid off,” said Edwards.
After departing Tzaneen, the peloton headed in a westerly direction and accessed the R36 to retrace the steps of Stage 1 in reverse, taking the R71 towards Magoebaskloof Pass. The Sprint Hotspot was positioned at 20km, where Ryan Harris (Officeguru Racing) secured maximum points ahead of Reynard Butler (ProTouch Sports), Paul Daumont (both World Cycling Centre Africa Mixed Team) and Redwan Ebrahim (both World Cycling Centre Africa Mixed Team).
The climbers then came to the fore as they tackled the start of the 11km ascent up the mighty Magoebaskloof Pass for the first of three King of the Mountain hotspots for the day. A breakaway group of 19 riders containing the yellow jersey Clint Hendricks (Team BCX) steadily lifted the pace, which witnessed a few riders dropping back.
At 25.5km, James Fourie (ProTouch Sports) in the polka jersey and Jan Montshiao (Sampada) broke away from a group of riders containing Hendricks, Marc Pritzen and Brandon Downs (Team BCX), Gustav Basson and Jayde Julius (ProTouch Sports), Andrew Edwards (ACDC Luso), Redwan Ebrahim (World Cycling Centre Africa Mixed Team), Christopher Lagane (Team MCB) and Songezo Jim and Jan Montshiao (Sampada).
The first of three King of the Mountain hotspots at 26.6km was claimed by Fourie, followed by Montshiao then Hendricks and Pritzen. Basson won the second King of the Mountain at 40.5km, followed by Hendricks, Ebrahim and Fourie.
After re-joining, Julius launched a lone attack on the crest of the hill at 46km, building a gap of up to 40 seconds over the chasing group until he dropped back. No sooner had he touched base with the group, did he launch a massive attack with teammate James Fourie at Zion City Moria (55km), where they continued for almost 100km out in front.
The race progressed along the gradual ascent and turned at the Paledi Mall traffic lights and across a 16km link road to the R81 to begin the long and gruelling return trip home. After Moketsi, riders passed through the ZZ2 farmlands as they began the climb toward Modjadjiskloof, the home of the Rain Queen, an appropriate town to pass through for this Queen Stage. The town came out to support the cyclists as they passed through for the third King of the Mountain hotspot, which went to Fourie and Julius.
“Initially Jayde and I went out to win the last King of the Mountains to secure the polka jersey,” said Fourie. “From there it was only 20km to the finish, so we decided to just drive it home and give it a shot. We raced the race. When we were caught, Jayde jumped across to the other guys as I had given it everything to get him as far as possible. It was a good day for us, so I’m very happy.”
The chasing bunch caught Julius and Fourie with 10km to go, where several attacks were launched with the final move from Edwards sealing the victory.
Today’s result sees Basson move into the lead in the General Classification and start Wednesday’s Team Time Trial in the yellow jersey. Clint Hendricks retains the green Sprinters jersey and James Fourie retains the King of the Mountain polka jersey. Gustav Basson retains the white Best Young Riders jerseys for another day, while today’s most aggressive rider was Jayde Julius, who wears red tomorrow.
Teamwork will be in play on tomorrow’s stage three as teams tackle the 28.6km Team Time Trial, an exciting dynamic to this year’s Tour, which starts and finishes in Tzaneen. With the fastest four riders to count when crossing the line, team members supporting those at the top-end of the race will have their work cut out for them to protect their leaders’ positions, while the remaining teams may upset the applecart by posting challenging times in this exciting discipline of racing.
<<< (Provisional) Summary of Results >>>
2018 Tour de Limpopo – 24 April 2018 – Tzaneen to Tzaneen
Stage 2 results
- Andrew Edwards (u23 - ACDC Luso) 04:26:53.667
- Redwan Salih Ebrahim (u23 - World Cycling Centre Africa Mixed Team) 04:27:00.003
- Gustav Basson (u23 - ProTouch Sports) 04:27:02.313
- Clint Hendricks (Team BCX) 04:27:02.412
- Jayde Julius (ProTouch Sports) 04:27:02.610
- Dirk Coetzee (Officeguru Racing) 04:27:02.709
- Calvin Beneke (ACDC Luso) 04:27:02.742
- Alexandre Mayer (u23 - Team MCB) 04:27:03.468
- Jason Oosthuizen (u23 - ACDC Luso) 04:27:04.623
- Christopher Lagane (u23 - Team MCB) 04:27:04.986