James Perry (Tasol-GT) turned the finishing straight of the 105km Classic into a time-trial course to thwart the country’s top sprinters in the 27th edition of The Herald VW Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth on Sunday.
The double national time-trial champion broke clear of the leaders in the final kilometre of the national classic to hold off race favourite Arran Brown (MTN-Qhubeka) and his own team-mate, multiple winner Nolan Hoffman, for his first win of the season in 2:27:04.
Perry took full advantage of his eight-man squad’s superior numbers to launch an onslaught in the final 10km.
“We got the whole team to the front and I was feeling really strong so I decided to attack off the front. With them all there, no one else was strong enough to come over and close us down before the finish.”
The Roodepoort-based rider said the racing had been flat-out from the start but that his legs had felt good throughout. He went with the initial break, taking the first sprint prime on Buffelsfontein Road in the process.
Perry said the leaders regrouped after a further 10km. “All the teams were trying to push the pace a little bit and split the group.
“The race stayed really positive; the guys kept attacking and trying to go with the moves.”
The second sprint hotspot on Altona Road was won by Dennis van Niekerk (MTN- Qhubeka) before he crashed out in the vicinity of Maitlands.
Perry’s team-mates David Maree and Clint Hendricks took the two king of the mountains primes at Theescombe and Maitlands respectively.
With the lead group trimmed to around 20 riders after the day’s final climb, Team Tasol-GT turned up the heat. Pre-race favourite Brown was their main target after a series of unfortunate events left the Momentum 94.7 winner’s five-man squad severely depleted.
His primary lead-out man Martin Wesemann was ruled out after breaking his collarbone last week, Calvin Benecke was unable to start due to a broken bicycle frame and Van Niekerk crashed. This left JC Nel, who blew with 7km to go.
“Tasol-GT were trying to eliminate me, so they kept sending riders up the road, which in turn put pressure on me to keep following,” said Brown.
“Kevin Evans (Nedbank-360Life) came in at the end to help me close the gaps but by the time the fourth attack came, James had a big enough lead.
“I started sprinting with about 450m to go, which was way too early. I thought I could catch him on the line but unfortunately he held his gap.”
The women’s race came down to a sprint between four riders, with Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio taking victory for Momentum-Toyota (3:04:31) ahead of national road champion Marissa Stander of bizhub-FCF.
Twelve-time champion Anriëtte Schoeman, making her debut for bizhub-FCF, completed the podium while Moolman-Pasio’s team-mate, defending champion Robyn de Groot, placed fourth (3:04:31).
“Marissa and I got an early break, then Robyn and Anriëtte caught us,” said Moolman-Pasio.
“Marissa and I were stronger, especially on the climbs. We just had that little advantage so we were both confident coming into the sprint.
“We knew one of us would take it.”
The Herald VW Cycle Tour
105km Classic (Men)
1. James Perry – Tasol-GT (2:27:04)
2. Arran Brown – MTN-Qhubeka (2:27:04)
3. Nolan Hoffman – Tasol-GT (2:27:04)
4. Jacobus Venter – NuWater (2:27:04)
5. Sean Ward – NuWater (2:27:04)
6. Jean Spies – Tasol-GT (2:27:04)
7. Charles Keey – Blend Property Group (2:27:04)
8. Carl Pasio – RSAWEB (2:27:04)
9. Clinton Barrow – Mecer-NMMU (2:27:04)
10. Conrad Viljoen – Mecer-NMMU (2:27:05)
105km Classic (Women)
1. Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio – Momentum-Toyota (3:04:31)
2. Marissa Stander – bizhub-FCF (3:04:31)
3. Anriëtte Schoeman – bizhub FCF (3:04:31)
4. Robyn de Groot – Momentum-Toyota (3:04:31)
5. Linn Torp – bizhub-FCF (3:16:33)
6. Lindi Erasmus – bizhub-FCF (3:16:33)
7. Monique Gerber – bizhub-FCF (3:16:34)
8. Alison Hertel (3:16:34)
9. Julie Walker (3:16:59)
10. Candice Neethling – BCM
105km Classic (Tandem)
1. Jason Meaton and Chris Nel (2:35:55)
2. Roger Pheiffer and Wayne Pheiffer (2:41:59)
3. Stephen Scheepers and Patricia Barradas (2:42:00)
105km Classic (Junior Men)
1. Kellan Gouveris (2:37:16)
2. Andre van Vuuren (2:44:37)
3. Kyle Bradford (2:44:37)