Port Elizabeth lived up to its name as the windy city when it hosted Stage 3 of the Cell C Tour of South Africa.
Following Monday’s rest day, the stage started in earnest at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium, before finishing 171 km’s later, on Marine Drive along the beachfront.
Yohann Gene (Europcar) outsprinted a small group at the finish, to take the stage honours ahead of Johann Rabie (Team Bonitas). Asked what the victory meant to them, team management said it was very important, as Europcar is an official sponsor of the race.
A breakaway formed immediately after the start, including Arran Brown (MTN-Qhubeka), Johan van Zyl (Toyota CSA) and Tomasz Kiendys (CCC Polstat). Rapha Condor-Sharp, the team of race leader Kristian House controlled the pace, only giving the escape a maximum lead of 2 minutes.
At this point, the race was relaxed as riders enjoyed the sightings of elephants and giraffes amongst other wildlife, as they passed the Addo Elephant Park.
Europcar changed their focus from winning the general classification to winning a stage after team leader Anthony Charteau crashed out of the race on stage 1.
The team showed their intent at 65km’s to go, when they took full advantage of strong winds to put the race in the “gutter”. The breakaway was brought back and the peloton was splintered with several different groups forming on the road. 24 riders made up the front group that included the gold jersey, House.
On the way to the finish, 2 short steep climbs had to be negotiated. 5 riders which included Rabie and Daryl Impey (MTN-Qhubeka) got a small gap on the first one.
However, a lack of cooperation saw them being brought back before a group of 10 riders formed at the top of the final climb.
Gene proved the strongest from this group and made the trip from France worthwhile for his team. Kristian House finished 5th on the stage to retain the race lead going into stage 4.