“Unbelievable” is how our in-form road cyclist Reinardt Janse van Rensburg described after winning his first European stage and then going on to clinch overall victory, writes Mark Etheridge.
Janse van Rensburg won stage four of the Tour de Bretagne in France which ended on Tuesday, after a nailbiting count back came into play.
“Yeah its unbelievable, its our first stage race in Europe this season and we really didn’t expect to be winning. But when you have the legs, everything is possible,” the MTN-Qhubeka rider told Road to London 2012 on Thursday after the latest saga in a run of excellence.
“I lost some time in the beginning, but knew that the hard stages with the steep uphill finishes were what would make the difference. I actually surprised myself as I discovered a new ability in me on these short, steep climbs. It was really special to get my first win on the Mur-de-Bretagne on stage four. I also closed in from 32sec behind to 22sec behind. I gained another nine seconds on Stage Five when I placed second behind Jay McCarthy on another uphill finish.”
The 23-year-old is not known as “The Beast” in local cycling circles for nothing. “Before that last stage I knew I was the probably the strongest on the cobbled climbs and that it was still possible to make up 13sec.
“The plan was to separate race leader, Eric Berthou, from his teammates on the finishing laps and then go for it towards the final kilometres. I went on the steepest part of the hill with 1.5km to go. I immediately got a gap and kept going all the way to the finish.”
There followed some anxious moments though for the Pretoria rider, though as he waited to hear the final placings. “Initially I thought I had won the stage and the tour, but learned soon after that one rider had stayed away from the breakaway. I then knew it would be close as I needed seven seconds along with the six bonus seconds for second place to get level with Berthou. I got exactly 7sec and won the tour on a countback on finishing positions on each stage.”
The MTN-Qhubeka’s next race was the Ronde van Overijsel over two days in the Netherlands, finishing on Saturday (5 May) and they then move on to the Circuit de Wallone in Belgium on Sunday.