Victory in Sunday’s Bestmed Tshwane Classic is likely to hinge on one major obstacle that presents itself 13km from the finish line – the notorious Tom Jenkins ascent at the Union Buildings.
Over the past two years the climb has proved decisive with Chris Jooste riding away in the first year and last year Dylan Girdlestone (Office Guru) put in a powerhouse display in the final 12km to claim a solo victory in the second edition of Pretoria’s signature mass participation cycling event.
Although the climb is only 1km in length, the average gradient of 9 percent tells the real story. The gradient, coupled with the rough road surface, which is a trademark of this monument of the sport in South Africa, presents a delightful opportunity to attack.
Teams will work relentlessly during the 98km race to ensure their top riders reach the bottom of the climb in a good position to either attack, or to follow an attack which might lead to an escape group getting away.
The finishing circuit through Pretoria after the climb has undergone a few tweaks and is likely to be a bit quicker and less technical than in the past. This should give the sprinters’ teams a chance to reel the escapees back, provided their lead isn’t too substantial going over the top of the climb.
There is an added incentive at the top of Tom Jenkins with event partner Office National putting up a R2500 King and Queen of the Mountains prize for the first rider to the summit.
While the likes of TEG Pro Cycling and Pro Touch Cycling will look to dominate proceedings with their strength in numbers, Paarl resident HB Kruger, who rides in the colours of Alfa Bodyworks, showcased his sublime form recently when he won the Tsogo Sun Amashovashova last weekend.
Kruger doesn’t have the backing of a big team, but if he can get to the climb in the right position, he can make a big impact on Tom Jenkins.
TEG Pro Cycling have a definite stand-out rider in Louis Visser and according to their team manager, Charles Lenczik, they will focus on getting him into a good position before the start of Tom Jenkins.
TEG have an interesting guest rider in their set-up with Portuguese junior champion Pedro Sousa joining their ranks during the European off-season.
According to Lenczik he can “hold his own” on the climbs. “We believe he’ll be in with a shout in the junior race, so we’ll also be looking out for him.”
Last year’s women’s race a saw strong performance from Demacon’s Carla Oberholzer. She attacked on Tom Jenkins Drive and put daylight between her and a group of 8 women who started the climb together.
Her teammate, Lynette Burger, seems to have an affinity for Pretoria races having won the city’s other big cycling race earlier in the year when she claimed the honours in the Diamond Classic.
Burger, who ended up fighting for her life last year when she was struck from behind by a vehicle, has defied all odds to make a miraculous return to the sport.
She displayed her good form over the weekend when she won the Carnival City Macsteel Classic, so she is likely to be right up there in the final 12km leading into the Voortrekker Monument.
Catherine Collyn from Team Customised has also showed extremely good form of late and is one to watch.
The finish this year doesn’t present itself on the Freedom Park ascent. On Sunday riders will have a quick lead-in to the finish in Eeufees Road in front of the Monument and spectators will be treated to a sprint provided more than one rider dislodges on Tom Jenkins.
These riders are part of more than 6000 cyclists who are lining up from 05h45 at the Voortrekker Monument on Sunday for the third edition of the Bestmed Tshwane Classic, presented by the City of Tshwane.
In addition to the popular road race, which runs through Centurion, past Hartbeespoort Dam and back on the N4 before heading into the streets of Pretoria, the Hectic Promotions non-profit company is also offering a packed entertainment program for the whole family at the Voortrekker Monument.
There are kids’ races, a fun run, a kermesse circuit race, guided tours of the Monument and a Recycling Expo to fill the day (see full schedule on www.tshwaneclassic.co.za).
Spectators will be in awe at the kermesse, which is a circuit-based cycling race. It’s by invitation only and will host the country’s top professionals. The kermesse features a secure 1.1km circuit on a smooth road surface inside the grounds of the Monument and starts at 10h45.
Residents who would still like to enter, can visit one of the registration venues this week. The registration venues and times are listed on www.tshwaneclassic.co.za
Affected roads in the city and closures are also listed on www.tshwaneclassic.co.za
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