Irishman Philip Lavery outsprinted the lead bunch to snatch the honours in the opening stage of the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope in warm conditions at La Paris Estate near Paarl today.
The 26-year-old Alfa Bodyworks rider from Dublin stopped the clock at 2:21:06 on the 102km ride through the Cape Winelands to set the early pace.
He was followed home by 94.7 Cycle Challenge champion Brendon Davids and BCX’s Calvin Beneke.
With most of the general classification favourites finishing behind in the main peloton, there will be some jostling for position in the second stage 26km Buffet Olives individual time-trial.
Lavery was jubilant after his stage win for his adopted team in South Africa’s premier road stage race.
“We got away early on and I didn’t do a lot of work as we have Jayde Julius for the GC,” he said afterwards.
Lavery said he knew the run-in to the finish after competing in last year’s tour and wanted to make sure he entered the chute first.
“When I went, I went hard and they weren’t able to come around me.”
Lavery said the attacks started within the first 20 kilometres and found himself at the front of the peloton when the final break formed.
“It went away really easy because most of the top teams were represented. And it was up to them to ride hard.”
The former Cofidis and Synergy Baku rider said he was uncertain of how the time-trial would go and was happy, for now, to relish the stage win.
“This is what Alfa Bodyworks got me here for and I’m happy to repay their faith in me.”
Lavery, a former U23 national champion and bronze medallist in the team pursuit at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, said he had not been in top condition in last year’s Tour of Good Hope.
“I have managed to pick up on my fitness this year and my power output is probably 80 watts better.”
Bestmed-ASG’s An-Li Kachelhoffer won the women’s race in 3:01:09 after getting the better of Namibian Vera Adrian (Dorma Karma) on the line.
Spur’s Ariane Luthi, who placed third overall last year after winning the title in 2015, was third on the day.
The 29-year-old Kachelhoffer, from Paarl in the Western Cape, said she chanced her arm by starting the sprint from a long way out.
“It must have been about 300 to 350 metres out, but there was a bit of chaos ahead of us and I knew I had to get to the chute first.
“It was very close with Vera, but sometimes you have to take a gamble. A win is a win and it’s better being in the front than stuck in the bunch at the back.”
Kachelhoffer said she had no great expectations going into the time-trial and would be aiming to limit the damage.
She added, though, they were firmly focused on the overall win.
“With our sponsors linked to the event, we really want to do well to give something back.”
The Bestmed Tour of Good Hope, which is presented by the City of Drakenstein and Scicon, finishes at the Taal Monument above Paarl on Friday.