The Wilro Lions Cycle Challenge took place on Sunday morning West of Gauteng. Clint Hendricks won the race from Calvin Beneke and Jason Oosthuizen in a sprint finish at Tarlton Raceway.
The RoadCover Cycling team rider, just back from the Tour de la Reunion, was the best of the escape group of 12 riders that went clear after 35km of racing. They attacked each other throughout the remainder of the race in windy and cold conditions.
This is notoriously a difficult event with plenty of long drags in an area where the wind blows on the best days. The cold front brought cool and windy conditions that threatened rain.
An escape group formed after 35kms containing 12 riders. Clint Hendricks joined by Kent Main of RoadCover, Nolan Hoffman of Telkom was present, Neil Robinson of Pro Touch, Eddie Van Heerden of Hollard u23 RCCC, Calvin Beneke of Luso Cycling, Jason Ooosthuizen a junior in the race. Rand Water Velokaya duo Luthando Kaka and Thulasizwe Mxenge, Myles van Musschenbroek, George Perrins and Richard Damant completed the group.
Working well together for a while until the attacks started to split the race through the hilly regions near Magaliesburg. Eddie Van Heerden and Kent Main the aggressors along with the Rand Water Duo.
With a strong head winds leading back towards Tarlton, the race stayed together after the four men including Robinson, Damant, Van Musschenbroek and Perrins were dropped.
The finale included of a few kilometres with a change of direction and then tailwind into the finishing straights of Tarlton. This gave riders the opportunity to stretch things out. Main and Van Heerden the most aggressive, Hoffman was on the back foot, having to contain the race for the sprint finish.
Hendricks made no mistake to win. Oosthuizen had been racing conservatively, and as a junior was slightly under the radar of the elites. Calvin Beneke raced well to finish second, just ahead of Oosthuizen. Mxenge was fourth in the race but 3rd elite, just ahead of Hoffman.
The result shows some good form coming on for Hendricks as he goes in his final preparations for the World Road Race Championships in Doha in October. Hendricks is part of a 3 man Elite team selected to race for South Africa. Reinhard Janse Van Rensburg and SA champion Jaco Venter the two riders from Dimension Data selected, along with SA based Hendricks.
Jason Oosthuizen is becoming quite a regular to the junior podium. Consistently in the prizes, but also mixing it up with the elite riders. Racing individually.
It will be a big stretch to race the 260km World Champs when coming from races of half that distance, but Clint is confident the circuit is suited to him. The challenge will be negotiating his way in the world class field along with Venter and Janse Van Rensburg, and going the distance when he has been accustomed to racing for 3hours, that will need a concentrated effort for up to 6h30. A big task ahead.
Results of 114km Wilro Lions Cycle Challenge:
Clint Hendricks (RoadCover) 2:46:26
Calvin Beneke (Luso Cycling)
Thulasizwe Mxenge (Rand Water Velokaya)
Nolan Hoffman (Telkom)
Kent Main (RoadCover) + 4s
Eddie Van Heerden (Hollard u23) +7s
Luthando Kaka (RandWater Velokaya) +27s
Jason Oosthuizen 2:46:27
Joshua Lubbe (Office Guru Racing) 2:53:20
Josh Van Wyk (VWE Track Academy) 2:53:20
Joshua Lubbe of OfficeGuruRacing finishes second in the junior category.
The u16 boys race:
Morne Soule (VWE Track Academy)
Luke Griffiths (RoadCover Cycling Team)
Kieran Mckenna (RoadCover Cycling Team)