Team bizhub’s in-form Yolandi du Toit signed off the first half of the season with a hard-earned overall victory in the two-day N3TC Greytown Classic mountain bike race that finished on Sunday.
Du Toit won Saturday’s first stage over 60 kilometres in 2:56:49 and Sunday’s, over 45, in 2:22:53 for a combined time of 5:19:43.
Team Jeep’s Jean Hackland (3:03:15; 2:29:18; 5:32:33) was a close second with Cycle Lab’s Brenda Potts (3:10:03; 2:35:12; 5:45:16) completing the podium.
The lanky 24-year-old from Heidelberg in Gauteng was made to fight hard in the early stages of both days. “I had to ride very aggressively to stay ahead of Jean on the first day,” said Du Toit, who is known more for her endurance than technical prowess.
“The stage started with single track and I immediately took the lead, but she caught up with me after about three kilometres and from that moment I had to give everything.”
Even though she was in yellow, Du Toit said she was not overly confident going into the second day. “Some of the other riders’ technical abilities are superb and the course suited them more than me. I just tried my best and fortunately that was good enough.”
Du Toit, who recently dominated the inaugural Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c with team-mate Lise Olivier, said she would now take some time off before focusing on a “busy” second half of the year.
“It’s fantastic to go into the winter break with some good results behind my name. If the boss is happy, I’m happy,” she joked.
Despite a hectic racing schedule over the past few months, Du Toit attributed her good form to being reasonably fresh.
“I fell ill after joBerg2c, which forced me to take a few days off. I think that rest came at just the right time. I’m already looking forward to the second half of the season.”
Meanwhile, in Warmbaths, Team bizhub’s latest signing, Sanet Smal, narrowly failed to make a winning start with her new team when she lost out by millimetres in the Century 21 Bela Bela Classic contested over 95 kilometres.
“I thought I had it,” said the 26-year-old from Pretoria, who was brought on board to give bizhub more firepower in the final dashes to the line. “I felt I had hit the timing mat first, but the sensor was probably located towards the middle and evidently I didn’t make it to that spot first.”
Smal said besides an early break by Biogen-Toyota’s Lizanne Naude, the race was largely uneventful. “We were with the veteran men, so the sprint was quite hectic. I initially sat on Lynette Burger’s wheel and went out wide when she sat up.”
The race was won by Nashua’s Karien van Jaarsveld with team-mate Charlotte van der Merwe third.
According to Team bizhub owner, John Robertson, they had reached an agreement with Team Ghost BBT, with whom Smal is contracted until the end of 2010. “Sanet will complete her mountain biking obligations with them and will therefore only be available for us on the road this year.”
Robertson said it was important to give riders from smaller teams an opportunity and he commended Ghost BBT for allowing Smal the flexibility. “This way we are first and foremost looking after the interests of the rider.”
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