Seizing the initiative up the Hekpoort climb, RoadCover rider Willie Smit surged to a fine win in the Bestmed Satellite Classic 106km road cycling race at Saloon Route 66 near Hartbeespoort Dam in North West today.
The 23-year-old Nelspruit rider added the Classic win to his triumph in the three-day Bestmed Jock Tour in July and said afterwards he was happy with his fitness.
Smit crossed the finish line 2:25:19, nearly 40 seconds ahead of Telkom’s Nolan Hoffman, who edged out Cape Town Cycle Tour champion Clint Hendricks (RoadCover) in the bunch sprint.
Having set his sights on the individual time-trial at next year’s national champs, Smit said he was encouraged by his form ahead of next month’s 947.
He added that the Satellite Classic victory was an important scalp for any professional and something he wouldn’t have been able to achieve without his team’s support.
“This is a well-established race so it’s great to get the win. You never really know in professional racing when these things are going to happen so you have to take every opportunity,” he said.
He added it had been a fast race until he managed to break away on the climb at Hekpoort.
“From there, with about 25km to go, it was a matter of staying mentally strong and I managed to go solo to the finish.”
Lise Olivier, of Time Freight, was crowned the women’s champion when she outpaced Ethiopian Eden Hailemariam to the line in 3:02:55.
Hailemariam was credited with a time of 3:02:56, with Bestmed-ASG’s Andrea Steyn completing the podium in the same time.
The 33-year-old Olivier, from Menlo Park in Pretoria, also went clear over Hekpoort and built an advantage of 45 seconds before being reeled in with 15km to go.
“In the end it came down to a sprint finish in a group of about seven and I just managed to take it,” she said.
1. Willie Smit 2:25:19
2. Nolan Hoffman 2:25:58
3. Clint Hendricks 2:25:58
4. Brendon Davids 2:25:59
5. Eddie van Heerden 2:25:59
1. Pieter du Toit 2:11:33
2. Michael Stevens 2:14:46
3. Lyborn Mashava 2:14:50
1. Gerhardus Olivier 2:00:16
2. Ferdinand Hartzenburg 2:00:25
3. Gerald Cele 2:01:09
1. Lise Olivier 3:02:55
2. Eden Hailemarian 3:02:56
3. Andrea Steyn 3:02:56
4. Yzette Oelofse 3:02:56
5. Joanna van de Winkel 3:02:56
1. Danielle Strydom 2:15:35
2. Magdalena van Niekerk 2:20:10
3. Cheri Oosthuizen 2:26:55
1. Megan Schoeman 2:16:15
2. Franciska Jacobs 2:16:16
3. Bev Sinclair 2:18:09