Young Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, whose meteoric rise to cycling stardom has been well documented in recent months, once again sent spectators into orbit when he delivered one of the best rides the BESTmed Jacaranda Satellite Classic has ever seen.
On Saturday, October 20, the 23-year-old proved he had no equal as he attacked from a small lead bunch on the brutal 3.5km Hekpoort climb in the Hartbeespoort area to launch a 37km solo ride to the finish of the 114km feature race.
Some 5 000 riders turned out for the event in the North-West Province, but it all came down to a familiar tussle upfront with Janse van Rensburg’s MTN-Qhubeka squad and rivals Team Bonitas going head to head.
“With only two professional teams in the race, I knew that once both parties were satisfied with a move it would most likely be the break of the day,” said Janse van Rensburg.
“Bonitas were satisfied with their two sprinters in the break, but I was confident that if we could get to Hekpoort with a decent gap that I could ride away on my own.”
Widely regarded as one of the country’s best sprinters, the national time-trial champion showed he could ascend too.
“Hekpoort is more of a power climb and it only takes seven minutes to reach the top. Climbs like these are one of my biggest strengths; I’ve had some of my best international results on similar hill finishes.”
Some of those results came in the recent European season where he rode to overall victories in the Tour de Bretagne, Ronde van Overijssel and Circuit de Wallonie. But it was his triumph in the 1.1-rated Ronde van Zeeland Seaports that cemented his place in the spotlight.
According to Janse van Rensburg, who lives in Pretoria, the racing in the BESTmed Jacaranda Satallite Classic got underway at a relatively slow pace due to a strong headwind.
“I followed an early move by Herman Fouché and Christoff van Heerden of Bonitas, and my team-mate JC Nel came along.”
About 20 kilometres later, they were joined by MTN-Qhubeka’s Dennis van Niekerk and Bonitas’ Stefan Ihlenfeldt.
“There wasn’t too much of a chase from behind as the two big teams were both well represented and we’d opened up a big gap by the time we got to the base of the climb.
“I went from the bottom knowing that, if I could get a fair gap by the top, I could use my time-trialling ability to stay away.”
Janse van Rensburg opened up a two-minute lead over the next few kilometres, leaving his breakaway companions to race for second place, which ultimately went to Van Heerden, with Van Niekerk third.
The modest winner singled out fifth-placed Nel’s performance as one of the most impressive of the day. It was his first race back after being hit by a car six months ago.
“It was a symbolic moment when we raced over the spot where JC was hit just after we got away. I think that inspired him.”
Janse van Rensburg said he had really enjoyed the race following a frustrating turn at the Amashova Durban Classic the previous weekend.
“I think a lot of the guys in the elite bunch have forgotten how to have fun in the races. Racing has become very negative since I last competed in South Africa in March.”
He said his next major focus would be the African Continental Championships in Burkina Faso in the second week of November.
“It’s really important to get good results there as a country in order to qualify more riders for next year’s world championships.”
After starting the season with a win in the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, he will be hoping to also end it on a high note at the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge on November 18.
As defending champion, his team-mate Arran Brown is the odds-on favourite, but Janse van Rensburg will undoubtedly be in the mix.
“Like Argus, we will have a two-pronged attack at 94.7 where either Arran or I could win. It just depends on the situation and how the race plays out.”
The event will be Janse van Rensburg’s swansong for MTN-Qhubeka as he is leaving them for an as yet unconfirmed team, which will no doubt see him competing on the international stage.
“An official announcement will be made soon. It was a tough decision and I’m sad to leave; it was more like a family away from home over the past three years and I will miss the guys dearly.”
The women’s race was won by national road champion and Olympic rider Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Momentum-Toyota), who was followed home by Lise Olivier (MTN-Qhubeka) and Jo van de Winkel (Momentum-Toyota).
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