Clint Hendricks (RoadCover) took the coveted title of the 39th Cape Town Cycle Tour in perfect conditions this morning. Hendricks out-sprinted Jayde Julius (Dimension Data Continental) and two-time defending champion Nolan Hoffman (Team Telkom) in what many are calling the most exciting Cape Town Cycle Tour in modern memory.
“It’s been a long time coming, I’ve come second and third, so I’m very happy to pull this one off,” Hendricks said of the biggest win of his career, so far. As a sprinter Hendricks has been stuck in the shadow of the prolific Hoffman, who was in the hunt for only the second hat trick in history (the great Willie Engelbrecht completed the triple in 1988, 89 and 90). “To get one over him (Hoffman) in the biggest race of the year, feels good,” said Hendricks.
Hendricks’ relatively slow winning time of 02:35:52 (the record is 02:27:29 held by Robbie Hunter) is indicative of the watchful team tactical racing that took place early on. Nicol Carstens (Lights by Linea) got away just before Muizenberg and the big teams let him stay away for a while. The peloton, spearheaded by Team Telkom, started increasing the pace through Simon’s Town and Carstens was brought back not long thereafter.
Up the Smitswinkel climb James Reid (S-Racing) revved his engine and sparked the break which ignited the field. Much had been made all week about how the international mountain bikers were looking to deliver Kiwi Sam Gaze in the sprint and he, along with the likes of Christoph Sauser (S-Racing) were in this surge, as was Karl Platt from Team Bulls and Nino Schurter (Scott ODLO). National Road Race Champion Jaco Venter (Dimension Data) was also in the break and played a few cards out front but was closely marked and couldn’t get away.
Things came back together through Noordhoek and it was Dimension Data’s Songezo Jim who broke over Chapman’s Peak. He led a bunch through Hout Bay, before the decisive move came up Suikerbossie when 19-year-old Keagan Girdlestone (Dimension Data Continental) slipped away. Girdlestone – eventually joined by Jim and JC Nel (ProTouch) – stayed away until the final kilometre and very nearly hung on for the win.
However, Hendricks’ RoadCover outfit, who were in the mix throughout the day, managed to deliver him through that final kilometre and the line. “I can’t thank my team enough,” said Hendricks. “Especially Kent Main – he was a demon in the end, on the front the whole way just burying himself.”
In the women’s race, An-li Kachelhoffer (Pretoria Box) continued her dream streak by taking the win ahead of defending champion Lynette Burger (Demacon) and Namibian Vera Adrian (Time Freight).
Kachelhoffer – who won SA National Road Champs recently and finished second (to Adrian) at African Continental Champs – won in a time of 02:51:26. “I’ve been looking forward to this race and I’m over the moon to be on the top step of the podium,” she said, explaining that the women’s group was caught by various men’s bunches, which made racing tricky. “It was a crazy ride, but I managed to get to the front and keep it together,” she said.
David Bellairs – a Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust, organisers of the annual event – perhaps described the day best, however.“An absolute dream win – the top European mountain bikers were out to show the roadies what was happening, but to have three Cape Town boys take the podium, I couldn’t wish for anything better for the Cape Town Cycle Tour,” he said.
While it is the most prestigious South African road race for a pro to win, Bellairs is always vocal about how the real champions on the day are the 35 000 other riders. “There is little bit of a breeze out around Cape Point which will keep the guys cool,” he commented of the back markers. “It’s a beautiful day for cycling, if I wasn’t standing here working I would be out on my bike,” he said.
Elite Men 1st: Clint Hendricks (RoadCover) (02:35:35)
Elite Men 2nd: Jayde Julius (Dimension Data Continental)
Elite Men 3rd: Nolan Hoffman (Team Telkom)
Elite Women 1st: An-li Kachelhoffer (Pretoria Box) (02:51:26)
Elite Women 2nd: Lynette Burger (Demacon)
Elite Women 3rd: Vera Adrian (Time Freight)