If anybody had any doubts about the truth of the saying ‘patience is a virtue’, he was proven wrong by Arno du Toit (Specialized/MR Price) this past weekend (17 July) during the MTN South African Cross-country Championship at the Fountains in Pretoria. Du Toit did this by winning the race for Junior Men.
During the first four cross-country races in the MTN-series this year, Du Toit was always up front with the leaders but in the end, when it really mattered, he was just not able to pull off a victory. In Mankele he finished third and in George he was second.
Perhaps this ‘not winning’ of Du Toit was a blessing in disguise for him. Instead of becoming negative and despondent, he was motivated to train harder and, eventually, he peaked at exactly the right moment to win the most important race and become the South African junior champion. Fortunately for him, he is a first year junior, which means that he will be able to defend his title next year.
Du Toit’s team-mate, James Reid, finished second and Travis Walker (DCM) was third. Only three minutes separated them.
Du Toit made his intentions clear right from the start by setting a very fast pace. After the first lap he already had a 42 second lead on Reid.
Du Toit’s lap time of 15 minutes and 28 seconds was actually quite amazing, because during the whole day only five riders managed to ride laps of under 16 minutes. His was the third fastest lap of the day.
Burry Stander (Specialized/Mr Price) posted the fastest lap time when he clocked 14:29, followed by Philip Buys (Garmin-adidas) at 15:01. Renay Goustra (GT) 15:52 and Matthys Beukes (Scott) 15:39 were the other two riders who broke the 16-minute barrier.
Afterwards Du Toit described his victory as unbelievable.
“I wanted to win very badly and I knew that I had a chance because the course at the Fountains suits my style of riding. It was my plan to make the racing as hard as possible in an effort to put pressure on the other riders. It certainly helped that I experienced one of those rare perfect days when it seemed as if I could do nothing wrong.”
Reid, who won three of the four races in the MTN series, had no excuse afterwards.
“The way Arno rode was brilliant. I don’t think any of us had a realistic chance of beating him. He was just faster and stronger than the rest of us.
“As far as my own race is concerned, I had a bad day in the saddle. I crashed a few times quite early in the race and from then on I battled to get into a good rhythm.”
According to Walker, he made the mistake of taking it too easy during the first part of the race.
“I was trying to pace myself to save my energy for the second half of the race. That cost me the race because I could never catch up with James and Arno.”
Courtesy Zoon Cronje