The MTN-Qhubeka feeder team’s Metkel Eyob showed good early season form as he soloed to victory in the Action Ford Berge en Dale Classic, presented by Optimum Financial Services, near Krugersdorp on Saturday. The Eritrean climber made short work of the undulating 102 km route to win the West Rand’s biggest cycle race in a time of 2:25:16. He was followed across the finish line at Cradlestone Mall by teammate Stefan De Bod in 2:25:22, with Europcar SA’s Willie Smit just a second back.
Eager to test their form ahead of the national and continental road championships in the next two weeks, MTN-Qhubeka took control of the racing early on. According to team manager JP Van Zyl, the attacks started hard on the
Hillsnacks climb, which loomed within the first 10 km, “That made a selection of around 35 riders and then we just kept up the pace and controlled the front from then on.”
With 40 km to go, Van Zyl said his riders went on the attack again, playing out their tactics according to plan, “We waited for the last 20 kilometres to attempt our getaway. Two riders from our team and two from Europcar SA went up the road.” On the final Valverde climb, Eyob and Europcar SA’s Bradley Potgieter broke away, with Potgieter claiming the king of the mountains hotspot. Sensing his opportunity, Eyob attacked his nearest rival and successfully dropped him to ride alone into the finish.
The 21-year-old, who is also the reigning Carnival City Classic winner, was happy to take his first Berge en Dale win. In the women’s race, Time Freight’s Lise Olivier also took her chance in the closing kilometres to claim an uncontested victory in 2:46:27. “A group of about five girls just stayed with the bunch we were riding in and went with all the moves. I got away with about two kilometres to go – just turning onto the highway, there’s a little kick and I got lucky I guess,” said Olivier.
The 31-year-old Pretoria resident said she was looking forward to next week’s SA champs, “I’ve got some decent form, so we’re in for some good racing.”
Photo: Metkel Eyob of the MTN-Qhubeka feeder team showed good early season form as he soloed to victory in the Action Ford Berge en Dale Classic, presented by Optimum Financial Services, near Krugersdorp on Saturday.