Jaco Venter (Dimension Data for Qhubeka) delivered a 10 kilometre solo charge to claim the victory in the Elite Men’s road race at the 2016 South African National Road, Time Trial and Para-cycling Championships in a hot and humid Westville, KwaZulu-Natal, today.
Venter, who celebrated his 29th birthday yesterday, was in the first breakaway of the day with RoadCover Cycling Team’s Clint Hendricks (25) at only 23 kilometres, which was closed down at the start of the third lap.
The next decisive move was when the Dimension Data for Qhubeka duo of Songezo Jim (25) and defending champion Jacques Janse van Rensburg (28) launched an attack, with 20-year-old Kent Main (RoadCover Cycling Team) and 25-year-old Calvin Beneke (RoadCover Cycling Team) joining them, creating a gap of over five-and-a-half minutes halfway into the race.
Janse van Rensburg and Jim’s relentless pace saw Main pop off the lead group as they continued to drive a hard pace with Beneke, increasing the gap to over seven minutes. Janse van Rensburg had used this same tactic last year at the National Championships in Mpumalanga, where he won.
In the remaining 45 kilometres, Louis Meintjes (Lampre Merida) and Daryl Impey (Orica-GreenEDGE) charged hard to close the gap to the leaders and at the start of the final 18-kilometre lap, the gap had narrowed to 51 seconds with only Janse van Rensburg and Beneke in the front.
No sooner had the race regrouped when Jaco Venter attacked at 10 kilometres to go and managed to pull a 40-second gap on the peloton. With determination, he retained his lead with impressive power up the final climb until the end to be crowned the 2016 South African National Road Champion for the first time in his career!
“In the beginning my chain fell off and I ripped my derailleur off and did a quick bike change at the bottom and chased back,” said Venter. “There were a few moves and I attacked but it wasn't really a good move for us as there was only one of us in the team. A few of the guys came across but we weren’t really committed so we fell back into the group. The Jacques and Songezo went and that was a pretty good move, I thought that was going to stay away but Daryl and Louis were quite impressive to bring it back. And when we got back, we all knew that we had to go now and I was happy to get the right move in.”
Venter crossed the line in 03:58:35, with U23 Time Trial Champion Stefan de Bod (Dimension Data for Qhubeka Continental) claiming second overall and first U23 (03:58:59), followed by Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data for Qhubeka) in 03:59:02, Hendricks, Jayde Julius (Dimension Data for Qhubeka Continental), Meintjes and Impey.
De Bod said: “Unfortunately I missed the first break today and it was part of my job to be in the breakaway, but it wasn’t a bad thing. I think this route suits me as I won the Junior title here in 2014 on the exact same route. I’m very excited to get the break with the team to race in Europe, I’ve been wanting this my whole cycling career.”
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg said: “Everything went the way we planned and we are very happy with the result. Jaco winning and Stefan taking the U23s was fantastic but today we had quite a big advantage with the numbers and fortunately we could finish it off.”
Dimension Data for Qhubeka Team Principal, Douglas Ryder, said: “I knew it was going to be the hardest National Championship for us to win. It was going to take a full team effort for it to happen. For a guy like Jaco to win is incredible, he’s the nicest guy and is always working in support of other riders so for him to pull it off and wear the National Jersey for the year is fantastic. Daryl and Louis were unbelievable today and they kept the pressure on, but it’s the fourth year now that we take the jersey to Europe.”
Ryder was also impressed with De Bod’s performance. “He is a phenomenal rider and I’m so happy for him.”
The Dimension Data for Qhubeka Team and Continental team will be taking 23 African riders to Europe – 13 in the WorldTour Team and 10 in the development feeder team – which shows how committed the team is to Africa cycling. “We’re building the bridge between Africa and Europe; our guys will race 88 days in Europe.”
Lampre Merida’s Louis Meintjes said: “It was always going to be a scenario where we had to do a lot of work and it turned out exactly like that but Dimension Data played it well and they always had the advantage and congrats to Jaco.”
Clint Hendricks had his best Road Champs results in his career: “It was a good race – the first breakaway wasn’t planned, it was unexpected and too early, so I eased up a bit. Closer to the finish and with the adrenalin pumping I went full gas with Bradley and then Stefan attacked. When Daryl, Reinie and Louis started sprinting and then Reinie beat me at the end. I’m pretty happy to be the third Elite and fourth overall.”
Summary of Results – 2016 SA National Road, Time Trial and Para-cycling Championships – Sunday 14 February 2016
Elite Men (170km)
1.Jaco Venter 03:58:35
2.Reinardt Janse van Rensburg 03:59:02
3.Clint Hendricks 03:59:02
4.Jayde Julius 03:59:02
5.Louis Meintjes 03:59:02
6.Daryl Impey 03:59:03
7.Paul van Zweel 03:59:06
8.Bradley Potgieter 03:59:09
9.Nicolas Dougall 03:59:39
10.Luthando Kaka 04:00:53
U23 Men (170km)
1.Stefan de Bod 03:58:59
2.Ryan Gibbons 03:59:09
3.Morne van Niekerk 03:59:16
4.Keagan Girdlestone 03:59:24
5.Chris Jooste 03:59:26
6.Graeme Ockhuis 04:00:28
7.Nicol Carstens 04:01:36
8.Carl Bonthuys 04:01:36
9.Jaco Pelser 04:01:37
10.Wian-David Slabbert 04:01:37