Italian Samuele Battistella conquered the Old Coach Road on Mount Agatha today after 103 kilometres on the road to secure the second victory in two days for Team Dimension Data Continental when he crossed the finish line in a time of two hours 32 minutes and 26 seconds. Kent Main (ProTouch Continental) and Rwanda’s Eric Manizabayo (Benediction Excel Energy) finished a close second and third respectively.
The race began with an attack at five kilometres in, soon after the neutral zone, where JP Lloyd (Officeguru Racing), Louis Visser (TEG Continental), Herman Keller (NCCS Namibia) and Rohan du Plooy (ProTouch Continental) rode out in front until the King of the Mountain at 38km, building a gap of as much as 40 seconds before being closed down. The King of the Mountain was won by Lloyd, followed by Keller, Hendrik Kruger (Alfa Bodyworks) and Du Plooy, in that order. With the peloton together again, some small attacks broke and were reeled in.
At 53km, Dominic Schils (Velo Schils) and David Maree (Proud Beginners), who has been the most animated throughout the tour, attacked and pulled away from the peloton after several attacks from Keller, which earned him the Red Jersey for today’s stage. Keller was with the front group, with Alex Worsdale (Officeguru Racing) and Visser in tow. The five riders had a lead of just over a minute by the time they crossed the Letaba River at 83km. The break was caught just before the start of the final climb up Old Coach Road, where the main contenders came to the front for the final seven kilometres, straight up.
Battistella, who is used to the hilly terrain from where he lives in Italy, said that the most challenging aspect for him has been the heat. With Connor Brown and Samuel Mugisha working hard throughout the stage to set him up for the climb, Battistella was happy to acknowledge the team work with the victory. “It wasn’t good at the beginning of the stage because the past two days I’ve been pushing hard for Connor and Konychev but today the team plan was to take the climb from the beginning and to go full gas, and after that see how many riders stay on my wheel. I attacked a few times but had to sprint for the win.”
Kent Main was oh-so-close but couldn’t match the final sprint to the line. “It was a hard day – Dimension Data Continental had to control the race because they didn’t want such a hard race. Then on the climb they drove the pace. Approaching the climb, everyone wants to be in the front. So my team did a great job keeping me in front the whole day and as we got to the climb, they put me on the right wheels.
“To my surprise, we split up from the beginning and I made an early jump across to Di-Data. I managed to ride away with Battistella – he beat me, but I can’t be disappointed with second against a classy rider.”
Benediction Excel Energy’s Eric Manizabayo said: “Climbing is not a problem for me – today was good because the finish was on the climb. But close to the end I had no more power. The winner was very fast.”
His Team Manager, Simon Hupperetz added, “We knew that Eric would be one of the contenders to win because he is a very strong climber but we hoped for first and it looked really possible until about 250m from the finish. He was also riding with very strong and experienced riders. So I would say it’s a good performance and always important to win points and make good experiences on races like that.”
David Maree said, “Attacking is part of my riding style, I just want to race. Stage 1 caught up with me a bit because of the distance but yesterday I tried really hard to slip away after we got caught after the first break. Today I decided not to attack too many times just going to do one or two hard ones but Di-Data were on a mission. We knew today would be hard and didn’t know how it would pan out. Tomorrow is going to be another massive day – it’s definitely a really hard and challenging course, yet versatile.”
Herman Keller is from Germany and is with Team NCCS as a guest rider. “It is my first tour with the team. Dan Craven invited me to race in this event, we race together in my German team. It’s like a cultural adventure here for me.”
Speaking about his attacks today, he said: “I’m not a climber, so I thought I’d make a breakaway and give myself a little bit of a gap, so that I could get out front in the climb. The bunch chased quite hard but it pushed me to go harder again. I’m a little heavier in build, so I used the downhills to attack, which is where I picked up the most speed.”
Officeguru Racing’s Dylan Girdlestone said the team started the day with a realistic goal. “So far, we’ve done our best, riding brilliantly together. We were hoping to both get on the podium by the end of today because Di-Data are looking strong. Kent Main started well and was up there over the line ahead of Marc and myself, and they finished about a minute ahead of us. Our team was fantastic with JP Lloyd in the first break, Alex Worsdale in the second break, and Andrew Edwards and Travis Barret looking after Marc and me to the bottom of the climb and we were perfectly positioned at the start of the hill.”
Casper Kruger from ACDC Luso explained how their newly-formed team has gelled together by Stage 3. “Our team has been put together from riders of three different teams so it was a bit hard for us on the first stage. But today, Wessel (Swanepoel) did a great job keeping us in the front the whole day. I had some bike problems this morning and luckily Calvin Beneke lent me his spare bike, so I am not used to the set up but it was hard up the climb. Just one of those days. The team spirit is quite high especially after Stage 2 and we will give it a good shot tomorrow.”
Team Limpopo’s local, Alan Gordon, enjoyed racing in his stomping ground today. “The climbing stages suit us more because we are from this part of the world. The beginning was fast and ended with the seven kilometre uphill. I normally cycle this area on my mountain bike. I’m happy with today, I think tomorrow will be even better for us because we start on a climb in the first 30km and our legs will still be fresh and I think we will be fast up Magoebaskloof.”
Gordon’s teammate, Sheldon Muller added: “It was very nice at the start, but it got tough towards the climb, the guys were putting on a lot of power. I did pass some of the big team members on the way up so I’m quite happy about that. I grew up here and I know this climb very well. I’m also from a mountain bike background, this is my first year racing on the road – I’m getting there.” he said.
Tomorrow’s fourth and final stage begins in Tzaneen and travels 100km to finish in Polokwane, at the Peter Mokabe Stadium once again. There is one Sprint hotspot at 14.5km and one King of the Mountain hotspot at 26.7km. Teams are expected to arrive in Polokwane by 11:30.
The 2019 Tour de Limpopo will be available to view on live streaming on race days and will go live at the following times:
Saturday 18 May from 09:00
Live streaming can be viewed at www.tourdelimpopo.co.za.
Live results and provisional results can be found immediately after the race at Mobii Timing: http://www.mobiielite.com/results/results.php?RaceID=a08f2b4d-6afd-4449-ac40-094b8d6c3aad
Summary of results – 2019 Tour de Limpopo Stage 3
1.Samuele BATTISTELLA - Team Dimension Data Continental 02:32:26
2.Kent MAIN - ProTouch Continental 02:32:29
3.Eric MANIZABAYO - Benediction Excel Energy 02:32:35
4.Connor BROWN - Team Dimension Data Continental 02:32:51
5.Samuel MUGISHA - Team Dimension Data Continental 02:33:06
6.Gustav BASSON - TEG Continental 02:33:25
7.Marc Oliver PRITZEN - Officeguru Racing 02:33:37
8.Dylan GIRDLESTONE - Officeguru Racing 02:33:37
9.Andries NIGRINI - ACDC Luso 02:33:45
10.Andrew EDWARDS - Officeguru Racing 02:33:52
GC after Stage 3
1.Samuele BATTISTELLA - Team Dimension Data Continental 08:46:27
2.Kent MAIN - ProTouch Continental 08:46:28
3.Connor BROWN - Team Dimension Data Continental 08:46:48
4.Marc Oliver PRITZEN - Officeguru Racing 08:47:28
5.Dylan GIRDLESTONE - Officeguru Racing 08:47:34
6.Gustav BASSON - TEG Continental 08:48:22
7.Steven VAN HEERDEN - Proud Beginners 08:48:48
8.James JOBBER - Velo Schils 08:49:48
9.Jason OOSTHUIZEN - TEG Continental 08:56:41
10.David MAREE - Proud Beginners 08:56:58
11.Eric MANIZABAYO - Benediction Excel Energy 08:57:47
12.Hendrik KRUGER - Alfa Bodyworks Giant 08:58:18
13.Samuel MUGISHA - Team Dimension Data Continental 08:58:37
14.Jayde JULIUS - ProTouch Continental 08:58:49
15.Clint HENDRICKS - ProTouch Continental 08:59:03
16.Andrew EDWARDS - Officeguru Racing 08:59:30
17.Andries NIGRINI - ACDC Luso 08:59:46
18.Louis VISSER - TEG Continental 09:00:42
19.Callum ORMISTON - ACDC Luso 09:02:08
20.Damion GOMEZ - TEG Continental 09:02:59
About the Tour de Limpopo
The 2019 Tour de Limpopo is a four-day, UCI Africa Tour 2.2 stage race starting in Bela Bela on Wednesday 15 May and passing through Polokwane – the capital city – heading east to the town of Tzaneen and on to Modjadjiskloof – Tarantaal – Coachman’s Climb (Mt Agatha), before heading back to Polokwane on 18 May to finish at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
For further race information, visit www.tourdelimpopo.co.za.