MTN Qhubeka’s Jacques Janse Van Rensburg has won the second Mzansi Tour powered by Cathsseta, which ended with a bang in Johannesburg on Saturday when HB Kruger of Bonitas Pro Cycling won the sprint at the Mzansi Criterium. Kruger outdragged Merhawi Kudus (MTN Qhubeka) on the final downhill sprint to round off five days of hard racing in South Africa’s premier international, UCI -ranked road stage race. It was decided that the fourth and final stage of the Mzansi Tour would become a one-day event after organisers and teams felt that the differences in skill levels between the riders could compromise rider safety on certain sections of the very technical course.
Instead of 15 laps of a 5.3 kilometre course, the teams did 60 kilometres on a shorter route through the Blue Hills Estate. The standings at the end of the third stage in Vanderbijlpark would thus be the final results for the race. Janse Van Rensburg took home the yellow jersey, his first win in an international tour, and also claimed the Cathsseta African Riders competition. His teammate Louis Meintjes took the Europcar Young Rider and Compendium King of the Mountains competitions, and finished in second place over all, 43 seconds behind Janse Van Rensburg. Nolan Hoffman (Team Abantu) made it a clean sweep for South Africans as he took the Echelon Events Points jersey.
The final day was a fitting celebration for a hard tour, which had taken the riders from Emmarentia Dam in Johannesburg through the eastern Free State and back to the biggest city in South Africa. Kruger said the criterium course had been tricky, but he felt he was always in with a chance if he stayed near the front, “As we came into the final few corners, I thought I would be able to get past Kudus if I kept close enough to him. It was a tight few corners, right and then left, but I have a good sprint and knew I could take him in the downhill kick to the line,” said Kruger.
The Mzansi Tour began with a team time trial prologue around Emmarentia Dan in Johannesburg. The British Rapha Condor JLT team, led by former British champion Kristian House, pipped MTN Qhubeka by four seconds for the first win of the tour. MTN Qhubeka then dominated the Mzansi Tour from the first stage until the end. The first Pro Continental team from Africa brought a team of experienced climbers for the mountains and altitude of the eastern Free State. Janse Van Rensburg rode a clever, tactical race to take the first stage from Golden Gate to Clarens, attacking on the final climb into the town inside the last kilometre.
Meintjes, the 2013 under-23 world championship silver medallist, led an MTN-Qhubeka 1-2-3 on the second stage, winning the climb up Blesbok Loop in the Golden Gate National Park. Herman Fouche of Bonitas Pro Cycling won the third and longest stage of the tour, the 201 kilometre trek from Bethlehem to Vanderbijlpark in a bunch sprint, holding off the Austrian Jan Sokol (Syngery Baku) and Hoffman in third. “As soon as I got the jersey, I wasn’t going to let it go,” said Janse van Rensburg, “This race is important to us as a team because it is in South Africa, and where it is positioned in the calendar. We got in some tough racing at altitude, which will be good for us when we got back to Europe. This race will go from strength to strength. The organisation is world class, the racing is tough and the conditions perfect. To win here gives me a massive boost going to the season.”