- Willie Smit wins Yellow and overall tour winner!
- Bradley Potgieter wins the overall Green jersey
- Willie Smit wins Blue jersey as best local rider
It was a hugely exciting finish to the Mpumalanga Tour on Saturday. In the final 132km day from BlydeCanyon Forever resorts to Whiteriver. The lead of the tour could have gone either way between 3 riders.
Calvin Beneke was in the break and was virtual yelllow jersey, accompanied by JC Nel, Paul Van Zweel, and Ivan Venter. Beneke had a big enough lead with 25km remaining to win the tour from Nico Bell.
Further back on the road, Bell along with Willie Smit and a group of the highest placed riders on GC were battling it out to shake each other off.
Willie Smit’s RoadCover Cycling team had placed 2 riders in the early breakaway group, Gustav Basson and Bradley Potgieter who had secured the points competition, Brad waited on top of God’s Window climb, for the attack of Smit, who crested alone ahead of Bell and co.
Together Smit and Potgieter pushed on to try an gain an advantage, but it was too quick and the chase brought them back. The idea was great and teamwork ideal, but Team Telkom, and NadPro MTB, worked hard to contain the attack.
Once through Sabie, and within 50km of the finish, Smit tried again, and again. Not able to shake Bell.
Eventually HB Kruger and Clint Hendircks went away from the Bell Group. Smit waited and saw his chance to jump across to this split. Getting clear of Bell meant that he could race for the overall lead, but had to gain 2″18′ over Bell to win. Smit joined HB, and had lost Hendricks in the effort. Chris Jooste was also in the move.
The next piece of their plan came together as RoadCover team mate Gustav Basson who had been in the early escape as well, waited for the chase group of Smit’s at the top of the Spitskop climb. it was a long wait, as the Beneke Escape had 6 minutes at that point.
So at that point in the race, 30kms remaining, Beneke had 6 minutes lead (and a 4minute deficit to make up on Smit and 6mins + over Bell). Bell was now 1 minute behind the Smit group. Smit had everything to race for!
It was a frantic finale, and pushing up ahead, Beneke eventually overcame his breakaway companions to win the stage. The effort of the charging Smit group containing HB Kruger, Chris Jooste and Gustav Basson was enough to close to 3 minutes of the stage winners, and opened up 4″50′ on the Bell group.
This put Willie Smit into the overall lead and he wins the tour!
Nico Bell put up a valiant effort, especially after gaining the huge gap on day 3 of the tour! Well ridden!
Calvin Beneke of Luso Cycling made a commanding final stage to move into 2nd place overall. HB Kruger loses out slightly and stays in 3rd place.
Chris Jooste climbs into the winning u23 position for his final stage finish with the Smit group.
The King of the Mountains Competition had Kruger hold a 1 point advantage over Van Zweel who gained a great deal of points on the final day.
Bradley Potgieter was solid and consistent in the Europcar points competition, which he won convincingly!
It has been a hugely exciting tour, and nicely competitive!
Well done to HA Toere and Forever Resorts along with Mpumalaga for hosting the event.
Images: Liam Philley and others.