Team MTN-Qhubeka’s sprint sensation Reinardt Janse van Rensburg has the international cycling world in a spin, following a dozen UCI-rated victories in Europe this season.
However, the young rider remains perfectly pragmatic about his recent triumphs. “My job is to win races,” he says.
“I normally share this responsibility with Arran Brown and it’s a role I’ve become accustomed to over the last two years.”
In March, Janse van Rensburg kicked off his racing calendar at home by taking the national time-trial jersey (and silver in the road race) and followed it up with his maiden victory in South Africa’s biggest road race – the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour.
Later that month, the 23-year-old took four stage victories and the overall win in the Tour du Maroc, proving that he was on dangerous form ahead of the team’s European tour.
Once on the Continent, Janse van Rensburg went on to notch up overall victories in races such as the Tour de Bretagne, Ronde van Overijssel and Circuit de Wallonie. He wrapped up the first half of the year with his biggest win to date – the 1.1-rated Ronde van Zeeland Seaports.
“It’s the biggest race I have done this year in terms of UCI ranking,” says Janse van Rensburg. “Teams like Rabobank, Vacansoleil, Farnese Vini and a host of other ProConti teams all participated.”
The Pretoria-based rider, who started his career with Toyota Supercycling in 2008, says it is particularly significant because it showed that he is capable of winning bigger races, not just “amateur” events.
“It really meant a lot to beat some classy names like Lars Boom, Mark Renshaw and Kenny van Hummel.”
He says his advantage lies in the fact that he is not a pure sprinter but can also time-trial and power up short, steep climbs. “I use these strengths to be especially dangerous on the harder uphill finishes.”
Although Janse van Rensburg’s successes have seen him labelled by some as “the new Robbie Hunter”, he is quick to avoid comparisons.
“Robbie has been a pro for 14 years – that’s quite an achievement in itself. I always looked up to him for inspiration, but I rather see myself as someone new on the circuit with my own ambitions.”
First among these is his childhood dream of taking part in the world’s biggest sporting event, the Olympic Games. “I was a bit disappointed not to be selected this year, as I felt I deserved a chance to go.
“But Daryl Impey also earned it, so I’m sure it was a tough decision for the selectors. I now need to make sure I get to do it in 2016.”
Janse van Rensburg says his next step is to learn as much as he can in the big races in order to prove himself in top-flight competition, as Impey has done.
He is also an integral part of MTN-Qhubeka’s recently announced long-term plan to gain Tour de France selection.
“I think it’s achievable, but it will take some time to get there. It’s about being patient, consistently improving as a team and proving ourselves at the highest level.”
MTN-Qhubeka returns to Europe alongside fellow South African team, Bonitas, for the 10-stage Tour of Portugal in August.
“It’s regarded as one of the biggest races not on the World Tour. And those who have ridden it tell me it’s the hardest tour they’ve done in their careers.”
The stage race will be followed by a few second-tier events in Belgium before Janse van Rensburg’s squad finishes its season at the team time-trial World Champs in the Netherlands on September 16.
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