Arran Brown continued his love affair with the Momentum 94.7 cycle race on Sunday, the MTN-Qhubeka rider winning the final race of the season in Johannesburg.
The event is the city’s biggest cycle race with 25,000 riders and ended in a 10-man sprint finish to the line. Brown won the small group sprint ahead of his team mate Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, who has been the man on form this last month. Brown finished second to Nic White last year and was also the winner in 2009.
The story of how the race unfolded ÔÇô the racing was fast on the M1 highway which normally sees the major Johannesburg traffic going into the city centre during the week but on Sunday it was closed for cyclists who were racing at 60km/h. At 18 kilometres, as the bunch got closer to the King of the Mountain section on St. Andrews road, the bunch split into four groups with 11 riders going clear just after the KOM which was won by David Maree (Tasol GT) with Dennis van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka) in second.
The two race favorites, Brown and Tyler Day (Team Bonitas) were the last two riders to make the front split as the race charged through the Johannesburg city centre. The major challengers Nolan Hofmann (Tasol GT) and Herman Fouche (Cape Town Fish Market) missed the break and sent their team-mates to the front to begin the chase.
The breakaway was flying with Team Bonitas riders Darren Lill (SA road champion), Johann Rabie, Jason Bakke, Tyler Day and Hanco Kachelhofer as well as Martin Wesemann, Janse van Rensburg and Brown (both Team MTN Qhubeka) setting the tempo. The riders sitting on and without numerical advantage were Louis Meintjes (Team Toyota Academy), James Perry (Team Tasol GT) and Ian McLeod (Team Northcliff Cycles).
The chasing bunches eventually merged and that took the sting out of the tail as the breakaway riders built their lead to three minutes with 25km to go. James Perry (Team Tasol GT) attacked twice in the last 5km to try his luck but to no avail as the remaining 10 riders were set to battle a bunch sprint. McLeod had punctured out of the break.
Lill set the tempo up the final drag before the left turn to the finish before Wesemann took over, Janse van Rensburg was on his wheel and then Kachelhofer and 2011 Cape Argus Cycle Tour winner Day. Brown sat behind Day and was in fourth wheel as the took the final right turn around the roundabout. It was a picture perfect finish for Team MTN Qhubeka as Brown and Janse van Rensburg powered away from their nearest rivals up the incline to the finish.
This was the men’s team’s 32nd race win of the season.
In the women’s event, four riders rode clear in a similar fashion to the men’s race. African continental road champion Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio and Jo van der Winkel (both Team Nashua Toyota), Cherise Taylor (Team USN) and Lise Olivier (Team MTN Qhubeka) maintained a lead of two minutes for the whole race.
In the end it was Moolman-Pasio who got the better of defending champion Taylor in the sprint to the line with Van Winkel taking the final podium spot and Lise taking fourth spot.