Team Telkom’s David Maree edged RoadCover’s Kent Main in a sprint finish to snatch the men’s honours in the Bestmed Berge en Dale Championship at Muldersdrift on the West Rand today.
The 27-year-old from Fourways in Johannesburg said the outcome had been “a bit of surprise” as they had planned their strategy around the team’s sprinter, Reynard Butler, in anticipation of a bunch finish to the 102km road cycling classic.
As it turned out, Maree said he and Main broke clear from the main peloton with about 10km remaining and managed to hold them off in the closing stages.
Butler led the leading bunch home to take third spot on the podium.
Maree described the Berge en Dale as a real challenge, but one which suited his strengths.
“The short, punchier climbs suit me as I’m a lighter rider, but it’s the sort of race where you can have a love-hate relationship,” he said.
“When you have a good race, this sort of event is amazing, but if you are not quite in top condition, you can really suffer.
“But for a guide as to where you are in terms of the Cape Town Cycle Tour, this is a great building block. It gives you a perfect indication of your conditioning.”
Telkom and RoadCover took the race by the scruff of its neck from the start, which led to Maree and RoadCover’s Clint Hendricks – who will be defending his Cape Town Cycle Tour title next month – going clear on Krugersdorp Hill. They were joined by Marvin van Musschenbroek.
“We worked well together, but knowing that Clint is a very fast sprinter, my plan was to roll with him and get him to exert himself as much as possible,” said Maree.
“With about 30km left, I fell back to the bunch and very soon afterwards the peloton caught up with the front pair.”
Maree said Telkom then forced the race with a number of attacks until Main put in a surge with about 10km to go.
“I followed him, knowing that I have the speed although I had done quite a bit in the race already. But Kent had also ridden quite hard so we worked well together.
“With 3km to go we only had 16 seconds on the chasing group of about 10, so it was very close. We managed to just hold them off by about 10 seconds in a really good race.”
Demacon’s Kim le Court used her power in a sprint finish to retain the elite women’s title.
Olympian and Bestmed-ASG’s new leader, An-Li Kachelhoffer, took second place ahead of Clover’s Charlene du Preez.
The 20-year-old Le Court, who hails from Mauritius but is based in Pretoria, was delighted with the result, given the fact that she had joined a new team this year.
“I do know Heidi Dalton, who is a good friend, but the other teammates are all new so it takes a while to build up that sort of relationship you need.
“We are still getting to know each other, but so far it is going great.
“We get along well and today we rode well as a team. It was a good effort.”
Le Court said they tried unsuccessfully to go clear early on, but the race-winning break eventually formed on the first steep climb.
“We stayed like that until the finishing sprint where I was nicely placed to get the win.”
She said the victory was a good motivation as it placed her in a strong position for the year.
“They say if you can win the Berge en Dale, you have a good medal chance at the African Cycling Championships, which are in Egypt this year.”