As most of Paarl got ready for a normal work or school day on Friday, the cyclists taking part in the Takealot Tour of Good Hope, either hopped out of bed with a sigh of relief or they would just be happy that the end is in sight. What has been a week of great racing, in very hot weather or a rainy and windy day, was soon to come to an end. Many commuters would be relieved too, as the trek to where they need to be will be much smoother next week.
The mood at the start line was upbeat, with music playing at a high pace as everyone rolled in towards the start line. The yellow jersey, the green jersey, the polkadot jersey, all in tow and ready to face the day. Stage 5 would be a short distance of 66km on the day, with the last few kilometres up the hill of the Taalmonument, the hardest!
The race started in neutral, which meant the riders could enjoy the scenery, the good weather, and even a bit of good banter amongst each other. What the cyclists would tell you though, is that one of the most memorable moments, was when they passed one of the local schools in the area, Windmeul Primary. Banners were made, everyone in their school uniform standing proudly on the pavement, cheering every single cyclist as they came by. It was scenes out of ANY world renowned race, with their heroes passing by. Under23 South African Champion, Marc Pritzen made dreams come true, as he slowly passed the children and high-fived them as he went by. What a way to say thank you, and goodbye to some of their supporters.
The race had a few breaks in the beginning kilometres, as everyone sussed each other out. Today every second counted, the yellow jersey and the overall win was up for grabs. When the gap was 1min 52 sec between the yellow jersey (Dylan Girdlestone) and the leading group, Girdlestone had a mechanical failure and had to swop bikes with a teammate. The bunch split into 3 groups, the chasing group were 20 seconds ahead, including Nolan Hoffman in green, and the final group included the yellow jersey, and the polkadot jersey, under 2min to the beak away group. It did not turn out to be a good day for Girdlestone, who unfortunately punctured and had to chase hard to catch up to the group again. Just as the yellow and green jersey groups made contact with the break, the group crashed. No injuries luckily but now everyone had to chase hard. The chasing group then included all three colour jerseys, and the race was on. Team Protouch’s Clint Hendricks was also in the breakaway, together with Tristan Cuthber. The gap opened up to 4min with just under 10km to go. As the riders hit the incline leading up to the top of The Taalmonument, the wind was unpleasant, not good for any rider. Beautiful scenes awaited the riders at the top of the hill, but what went through all these riders’ minds was surely just to get to the top. The end result was going to be all up to this final climb. One rider who had that little extra left in his tank, was no one other than Marc Pritzen (Office Guru) who crossed the line as the winner, with Jason Oosthuizen (TEG Procycling) in second.
As the day and week came to an end, various peoples are like shadows in the background making this tour possible. From the organisers, to the road rangers on their motorbikes keeping each cyclist safe, the persons manning waterpoints, the support crew in the team vehicles, the judges and commissairs keeping everyone in line with rules of racing to the people setting up the prize giving podiums. A cycling village and fraternity to make these races happen.
The TOGH, being a UCI 2.2 rated, UCI officials were in attendance. race One of them was UCI Commissaire, Willie Tarron, who managed and ensured that all rules were adhered to and that the race was done in a fair manner. He was impressed with how the tour was organised, and what the municipality did to ensure everyone’s safety. ‘’I was impressed with how it was organised, very good roads without any smalls lanes which allowed lots of cars to drive on it. The police and the road rangers were absolutely brilliant in controlling the race and making sure everyone was as safe as possible. I think the race is up to standard of 2.2 and should be granted it next year, I can see nothing that would stop it’’
His impressions of the town Paarl were also very positive, even though it was outlying compared to having a major race in a bigger city like Cape Town. ‘’Paarl is a lovely city, from what I’ve seen of it, and I think it’s great that smaller towns, rather than Johannesburg of Pietermaritzburg or Cape Town, they normally get the big races, but coming to Paarl is a real pleasure’’
A week of great racing comes to an end, sadly. Some of the cyclists would be relaxing tonight, after a tough week of hard racing, and some would be licking their proverbial and literal wounds. Goodluck to everyone taking part in the Cape Town cycle tour, of which most of the elite riders would be taking part on Sunday.
Stage 5 results:
1. Marc Pritzen
2. Byron Munton (Alfa Bodyworks-Giant) 1:43:24
3. Frans Claes (Alfa Bodyworks-Giant) 1:43:34
4. Jason Oosthuizen (TEG Procycling) 1:43:39
5. Clint Hendricks (ProTouch Continental) 1:43:56
6. Steven van Heerden (Team Enza) 1:43:56
7. Dan Craven (NCCS Namibia) 1:44:21
8. Yousif Alhammadi (UAE Team Emirates) 1:45:23
9. Kent Main (TEG Procycling) 1:47:25
10. Dylan Girdlestone (OfficeGuru) 1:47:49
2. Ariane Luthi 12:47:08
3. Catherine Colyn 12:52:17
1. Marc Pritzen
2. Jason Oosthuizen (TEG Procycling) 9:57:36
3. Frans Claes (Alfa Bodyworks-Giant) 9:57:57
4. Byron Munton (Alfa Bodyworks-Giant) 9:58:29
5. Clint Hendricks (ProTouch Continental) 9:58:44
6. Steven van Heerden (Team Enza) 9:58:55
7. Dan Craven (NCCS Namibia) 10:00:15
8. Dylan Girdlestone (OfficeGuru) 10:01:01
9. Kent Main (TEG Procycling) 10:01:16
10. Christoph Sauser (ProTouch) 10:03:29