Nico Bell shaded his rivals in the final section of the race to win the Takealot Jock Classic road cycle title for the first time in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, today.
The 35-year-old from Nelspruit edged Reynard Butler, defending champion David Maree and Travis Barrett in the race for the line to take the honours in the three-stage, one-day classic.
After winning the first stage, he also took the final 62.3km stage in 1:33:25 for an overall time of 3:53:58.
Maree, of Team Enza, was second in 3:53:58, followed by Travis Barrett (OfficeGuru Racing) in the same time.
The three stages took cyclists on a 150km route from Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit through White River and Sabie before ending back at the stadium.
After taking the first stage of 40.9km over Maree in a sprint finish, Bell said they conceded the second stage of 45.4km to Alex Worsdale.
“Alex had lost some time on the first stage and he rode away from the beginning, so we just let him go.
“Coming into the finish I just made sure I went full gas into the corner and was able to come in second, just ahead of David.”
Heading into the final stage, Bell said he felt Maree was the one to beat.
“David, Travis and I were all on the same time and coming up to the stadium Travis attacked up the left.
“Luckily I saw him coming and went straight onto his wheel and then I managed to come around him to the line.”
Bell paid tribute to his young teammate, Wessel Botha, who did a lot of work during the race to help him take the win.
“It was just the two of us in our team so we were up against it,” he said, “but Wessel did a great job of working to cover attacks and to pace me into the final stretch.
“He is a very talented young rider and the win was satisfying because we knew it would be tough.”
Carla Oberholzer of Demacon Ladies Cycling Team retained the women’s title by winning all three stages for an overall time of 4:30:51.
She was followed home by Parys Edwards (4:32:18) and Samantha Sanders (4:35:26).