By Mark Etheridge
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg swops Australia for China this week and it was mission accomplished for the young Pretoria cyclist after the Jayco Herald Sun Tour tour ended in Melbourne at the weekend.
Not only did Janse van Rensburg race to his first stage win outside of Africa, but he also ended fourth overall in the General Classification and his efforts were rewarded with him being awarded the Most Aggressive Jersey on the tour.
Janse van Rensburg, the reigning All Africa Games time trial champion, won the second stage of the Herald Sun Tour on Thursday and this tour will no doubt be a watershed moment in his burgeoning career.
He ended fifth in the fifth stage, and fourth on the General Classification with an overall time of 16hr 40min 06sec. That was just 27sec slower than overall winner, Nathan Haas of Australia.
And the 22-year-old MTN-Qhubeka rider was just one second away from third place and 10 seconds away from the runners-up spot. That’s how close the racing was.
” I am extremely proud of what I achieved in Australia,” Janse van Rensburg told Road to London 2012. “My goal was to win a stage and I did that. In the end I would have liked to get onto the podium for GC, and it was quite disappointing to miss it by just one second.
“The fourth stage was the toughest… we climbed Arthur’s Seat three times. Its a 3.2km climb with some sections going up to 20%. I was the last man on GC to keep up to Haas and [Jack] Bobridge, which meant if I stayed there I would’ve gotten at least third on GC. But I lost contact with 1.5km to go and unfortunately the guy in third, Jonas Jorgensen, caught up to me.
“In the last stage we had a mission to take over third on GC. And there was two sprint primes that offered 3, 2, 1 second bonuses. And also 10, 6, 4 at the line. I won the first prime quite comfortably, but then Jonas also got one second.
“A break went clear after the prime, but the team did a super job to close it down before the next sprint. I actually had to sprint pass them in the final 100m, I also won it, but once again Jonas got a 2sec bonus as well.
“This meant I was still 1sec behind in GC. I knew I had to get at least third on the stage, but I was too far back through the final corner and only good to get up to fifth place. Quite disappointing, but I got the most aggressive jersey for the tour at least as consolation.”
MTN Qhubeka’s next best finisher was Dennis van Niekerk in 17th spot on the GC, 10:57 down on the lead. In the team stakes, MTN Qhubeka were fifth overall, 2min 45 behind winning outfit Genesys Wealth Advisers.
The team now leave the Australian continent for the Asian continent to take part in the nine-stage Tour of Hainan, starting on Thursday.