A new champion was crowned in the Takealot Tour of Good Hope today when Marc Pritzen won the final stage at the Taal Monument just outside Paarl to clinch the yellow jersey.
The country’s premier road cycle race, presented by the City of Drakenstein in the Cape Winelands, ended in windy conditions on the 66.7km stage.
In a tense struggle to the finish, Pritzen used his climbing power to finally shake off Jason Oosthuizen (TEG Procycling) and grab the yellow jersey.
The OfficeGuru Racing rider completed the stage in 1:43:08 for an overall time of 9:57:15, 21 seconds ahead of the second-placed Oosthuizen. Frans Claes (Alfa Bodyworks/Giant), who was third on the stage, also finished third overall.
Byron Munton, also Alfa Bodyworks/Giant, finished in second place in today’s stage.
Overnight leader Dylan Girdlestone suffered a puncture on the final stage and finished in eighth place overall, about three minutes behind the winner.
Nolan Hoffman (Team Enza) won the sprints category ahead of Yousif Mirza Alhammadi (Team Emirates UAE) and Gustav Basson (TEG Procycling).
The King of the Mountain title went to HB Kruger (Alfa Bodyworks/Giant), with Pritzen second and Steven van Heerden (Team Enza) third.
Pritzen said they had planned the day differently, with his initial role being to secure the stage win and allowing Girdlestone to retain his overall top position.
“The idea was to control the day because the finish suits me,” said Pritzen.
“So we wanted to keep the race together until the final climb, setting me up for the stage win, and Dylan wouldn’t lose any time on [his closest challenger] Kent [Main].
“But we woke up this morning to find the wind was howling and we knew this day was not going to be easy.”
When Byron Munton (Alfa Bodyworks/Giant) sparked a breakaway about 15km into the stage, Pritzen was on his wheel and decided to go with him.
He said a tactical battle ensued which saw him drop off slightly before he eventually made up the ground on the leading group with 4km left.
“At the bottom of the final climb Byron picked up the pace, but I accelerated and went through, with Jason on my wheel.
“I went again and when I peeked under my arm, he was still there, so I went once more and that took me away for the win.
Having set the Tour of Good Hope as one of his goals for the year – the first having been achieved when he won the national U23 road title – Pritzen was delighted with the outcome.
“It is very satisfying to win this tour for the first time and all the credit must go to the team, both riders and management, for the roles they played in making it possible,” he said.
“I cannot thank my teammates enough because we are a fairly young outfit and the way they controlled the stages, especially yesterday, was fantastic.
“And to have team management members such as Jamie and Keith Cruickshank providing the motivation and helping in so many ways made a massive difference.”
In the women’s race, Catherine Colyn claimed the final stage honours in 2:20:42, but could not prevent first-time entrant Maja Wloszczowska of Poland from taking the overall honours.
Wloszczowska, who will be riding the Cape Epic later this month with Kross Fit Racing teammate Ariane Luthi, finished three seconds behind Colyn for an overall time of 12:42:37.
Luthi, third on the day, was second in the general classification in 12:47:08, followed by Colyn in 12:52:17.