Defending champion Kent Main led a DiData Continental team triumph as he again won the third stage up Du Toitskloof Pass in the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope near Paarl today.
After Stefan de Bod’s individual time-trial win yesterday, Main made it two in row for his team as they successfully negotiated the 137km queen stage of South Africa’s premier road stage race, presented by Scicon and the City of Drakenstein.
Main, a 22-year-old pro from Johannesburg, and 2016 overall winner De Bod crossed the finish line together in 3:39:56, followed soon afterwards by Italian teammate Matteo Sobrero.
With two stages left, De Bod provisionally leads the race ahead of Main and Gustav Basson (ProTouch).
The key element in their success during the stage, Main said, was their teamwork.
“The biggest thing I can say today is that it was a perfect team effort. If it wasn’t for that, it would not have worked out so well for us in the end,” he said.
“My teammates were able to put pressure on the rest so by the time they reached the climb they were already battling a bit.”
The stage winner said they rode fairly conservatively in the early breakaway, which included his teammates Louis Visser and Luca Mozzato.
“When Stefan came across to us, we tried to open up a gap, but, because of the nature of the course, a lot of guys came back to us.
“We knew BCX were chasing for the sprint points so we sat up and waited for them until the 115km mark and had a free ride all the way to the climb.
“From there, everyone did a massive job for the team and as a unit we really worked well together.”
Their efforts allowed Main and De Bod to shake off their challengers in the final 4km as they kept a firm grip on the yellow jersey.
Spur’s Ariane Luthi consolidated her place at the top of the standings with her second stage win in as many days.
She stopped the clock on 4:20:39 to beat Carmen Buchacher (dormakaba) and Lucy James to the line.
Luthi, who won the individual time-trial yesterday, led a breakaway of six after an attack by Buchacher had spread the field. Their breakaway companions were national road champion Carla Oberholzer (Demacon), Namibian Vera Adrian and Catherine Colyn.
“Going into the climb I thought Carla was my biggest threat for yellow,” explained Luthi.
“When I looked back and saw her suffering a bit, I pushed harder and was able to force a split in the final few kilometres. Carmen and Lucy stayed with me but I managed to stay in front.
“I am very pleased to win the stage and keep the yellow jersey. In comparison to last year, I feel 100 times better and that’s important.
“I do feel confident, but in road racing anything can happen and I will not be underestimating anyone over the last two days.”
Tomorrow’s fourth stage is over 134km with an equally challenging 2 900m of climbing.