The South African National Road Race Championships which took place in Wellington today, turned out to be the perfect race for Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka as Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was crowned the national elite champion and Stefan de Bod defended his u23 title. The duo crossed the line side by side after a well-executed team plan.
Our African Team started the 180km championship race as the marked favourites but we were confident that our depth in strength and a solid race tactic would be enough to come out on top. The race got off to just the start we had hoped, with a small group of 6 riders going clear from the peloton. We had Jacques Janse van Rensburg in the move, and the plan was to then have more of our troops ride across to the breakaway after the halfway point in the race.
As the break reached a lead of 4 minutes and the peloton hit a big crosswind section, our African Team put the peloton into the gutter and blew the race to pieces. The result was we had 5 riders in a group of 7 go clear from the peloton, pursuing the 6 early leaders. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg was our protected rider for the day and he was able to rely on Nic Dougall, Ryan Gibbons, Nicholas Dlamini and de Bod to drive the pace in the chase group.
Up the road, the break had splintered under the pressure being applied by Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Willie Smit (Roadcover). The remnants of the break were soon caught and dropped by our chase group, and then Jacques and Smit were also brought back into the fold. It was then up to our African Team to use our superior numbers to take command of the race.
De Bod attacked with a little over 50km to go and was soon joined by Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Smit. The trio worked well together to quickly open a 1’30” gap over the rest of the race. Gibbons and Jacques Janse van Rensburg then also attacked in an attempt to bridge to the 3 leaders. All that was left now was for Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and de Bod to shake Smit, which they did with just under 20km to go.
A team time trial effort followed by our 2 leaders, and they went all the way to line together. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg crossing first to take the elite gold medal and the national jersey, de Bod 2nd overall and taking the spoils in the u23 category. Smit held on for a commendable 3rd place with Gibbons 4th and Jacques Janse van Rensburg 5th.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg – Rider
This is the first time I have won the nationals road race in any category so it is a very special moment for me. The team was fantastic today, they really did a super job. The conditions suited us with the strong crosswinds, we were always hoping for the wind today and without the wind to make the race hard, it could’ve been trickier for us. We put the race in the gutter after 90km and then it became a numbers game. Stefan was really incredible, what a talent he is but I thank the whole team for this victory. This a dream come true for me and I will wear the national jersey in Europe with pride.
Stefan de Bod – Rider
The u23 race went really well for us today. In the end my strongest competition was my teammate Nicholas and we obviously weren’t even racing against each other. So in the overall race I saw an opportunity to attack and it worked out really with Reinardt coming across to me with Willie. This is a great start to the year for me and I just hope I can take this form to Europe now as doing well in Europe is my main focus this year.