Friendly City Cycles timed their effort to perfection to win the fifth leg of the Beachfront Lodges Premier Cycling League, a 66km team time-trial, in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The experience of Ironman Raynard Tissink and his team, which largely consisted of triathletes, paid off in blustery conditions when the pre-race favourites managed to overturn a deficit of 15 seconds into a lead of 28 on the sixth and final lap. Their fourth rider stopped the clock on 1:30:24.

Friendly City Cycles – comprising of Tissink, Mario Nell, Lawrence van Lingen, Luthando Fatyi, Mike Bosch and Mark Ward – were pushed all the way by the young Mecer-NMMU team, who eventually finished second in 1:30:52.

Toyota-Cycle Lab’s Antal Meiswinkel, Weslee Todkil, Kevin Dorfling, Stephen Pugh, Doug Shadwell and Greg Gouveris completed the podium with a credible ride of 1:33:09.

“It was an incredibly difficult race. We were under severe pressure after losing two riders early on,” Tissink said on Monday.

“At one stage we thought we were out of it, but then they (Mecer-NMMU) also lost a second rider. We were getting splits along the route and when we heard the gap was only 15 seconds with one lap to go, we knew anything could happen.”

After taking the initiative early on and posting remarkably consistent lap times, Mecer-NMMU’s Conrad Viljoen, Wesley Augustyn, Ronnie Scheffer, Reghardt Koen, Mark Murray and Jade Muller looked set for an unexpected victory. However, their lead, which was more than half a minute at one stage, was trimmed to 18 seconds with two laps to go.

It was clear that both teams were running out of steam towards the end as their penultimate laps were both more than 20 seconds slower than their previous ones, with Friendly City Cycles closing the gap by a further three seconds.

Tissink and his team’s backs were against the wall after they had shed two riders before half distance. At that stage Mecer-NMMU still hung onto five of their riders, but the wheels literally came off when they lost their second rider with one lap to go.

Walmer Club, who won this technical event the last time it was staged, kept Toyota-Cycle Lab honest for most of the race. They placed fourth in 1:34:17, just over a minute off the podium.

After five events, the top five teams are: Mecer-NMMU (61 points), Toyota-Cycle Lab (47), Friendly City Cycles (46), Walmer Club (38) and Volkswagen (26).

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