Teamwork was key for the Team Time Trial with ProTouch Sports claiming the victory along the 28.6-kilometre course in and around Tzaneen to mark Stage 3 of the Tour de Limpopo on Wednesday. With the fastest four riders to count when crossing the line, team members supporting those at the top-end of the race had their work cut out for them to protect their leaders’ positions in this exciting discipline of cycle racing.
While Team BCX’s Clint Hendriks crossed the line in the quickest time of the day in 36 minutes 54.931 seconds with David Maree and Marc Pritzen, an unfortunate crash in the final kilometre saw their fourth rider Brandon Downs hit the deck in a spectacular crash when wheels touched, which denied him the finish. The fourth rider became Steven van Heerden, who crossed the line in 38:02.296 to position the team into second place.
The ProTouch Sports quartet of Reynard Butler, Gustav Basson, Jayde Julius and James Fourie, who have animated most of the tour over the past two days, kept tightly together to secure the top step on the podium in a time of 37:17.945.
The Mauritian awesome foursome of Christopher Lagane (Mauritian National Time Trial Champion), Matthew Howe, Alexandre Mayer and Dylan Redy from Team MCB claimed third place in a time of 38:16.806.
South African/Mauritian Matthew Howe is studying medicine in his sixth and final year at UCT, Cape Town, in South Africa. He was born in South Africa, and his father is from Mauritius, so he completed his primary school years in Mauritius and high school in South Africa.
“We currently have Alex and Chris in the top 10 so we were riding for them today,” said Howe. “We’re still a new team with young guys – the new generation of cycling coming through from Mauritius – and we live all over the world so it’s hard to come together and train for a stage like today’s. Our goal today was to keep it steady and keep Alex and Chris in contention, with Chris being the strongest today. We cannot do races like this without our sponsors, who have invested in us and provided us with the opportunity to travel the world all year. We’re very grateful for that.”
The route started and finished at the Stage one and two finish line in Tzaneen, with a gentler 10:00 start after yesterday’s Queen Stage. The route went out east and providing undulating terrain for the teams as they followed the “Om die Dam” (around the dam) loop, surrounded by forestry areas.
Tristan Cuthbert from new South African team Vandergroup, spoke about the team’s TTT approach. “We’re the new boys on the block and we’re here to make a big impression and we’re here for the future. We never really knew each other well before the team started, but it’s all going well so far. We worked well together today and were pleased with our result, thank you to Vandergroup and all our co-sponsors for getting us here and for your support.”
Tomorrow’s stage from Tzaneen to Polokwane starts with the 11-kilometre climb up Magoebaskloof Pass, along the same first section that they traversed on Tuesday’s Queen stage. “We’ll take the stage as it comes, with survival first and foremost,” continued Cuthbert. “Other than that, we’ll try and help our team get over the climb in the best way possible. We know which riders we’re looking after, and we’ll keep doing that.”
UCI World Cycling Centre Africa’s Director Jean-Pierre van Zyl spoke about Africa’s newest UCI stage race in Limpopo. “I’m very proud of Cycling South Africa and what they’ve done here in conjunction with Limpopo Tourism Agency – it's a great initiative. It’s a start for South Africa to be back on the international scene, and they’ve started small-ish but I’m very impressed and the organisation has been fantastic.”
Speaking about the strong support from Limpopo Tourism Agency, Van Zyl continued: “The province has treated us really well, the tourism team has been really good for us and following on social media and really pushing the province and what they have to offer for tourism. Every board member that I’ve spoken to is really positive about the cycling and I think for development purposes, this province in going to go through the roof. We really need to concentrate and initiate cycling development programmes here in Limpopo.
“As far as the future of this event goes, the sky is the limit. I’ll definitely bring my World Cycling Centre Africa boys back next time and prepare them a little differently – I think the Team Time Trial is very nice and fits in with the UCI World Championships and African Continental Championships and what we are trying to achieve on the continent and in the world. It’s a very nice race and we don't want to leave,” he said.
Tomorrow’s fourth and final stage takes riders from Tzaneen back to Polokwane along a 116km distance to finish at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, where it all started. However, there will be no plain sailing as the sprinters stake a last points’ claim at the hotspot at 14.5km followed by the majestic and now all too familiar Magoebaskloof Pass once again that will get hearts racing – the King of the Mountain hotspot is positioned at 25.5km! From there, the undulating route takes riders back to the finish where they will complete five laps of the 2.87km circuit around the Peter Mokaba Stadium, which was built for the 2010 Football World Cup.
<<< (Provisional) Summary of Results >>>
2018 Tour de Limpopo – 25 April 2018 – Tzaneen to Tzaneen Team Time Trial
Stage 3 individual results
- ProTouch Sports 37:17.945
- Team BCX 38:02.296
- Team MCB 38:16.806