Top sprinter Reinardt Janse van Rensburg ended 24th in the Zellik-Galmaarden cycle race in Belgium on Sunday, writes Mark Etheridge.
The event, a UCI 1.2 event, was raced over a course of 173 kilometres.
Riding for the MTN-Qhubeka team, Janse van Rensburg who is know as “The Beast” by his team-mates had a particularly apt description of the course.
“It’s a beast, featuring climbs like Muur de GeraadsBergen, Onkerzele Berg, CongoBerg and Bosberg!
“This was our first 1.2 event and there were a lot of continental and club teams from Belgium and some from a few other countries. The team’s struggling with illness and one of our riders, Arran Brown, had to sit out. Most of us seem to be battling with a cold.”
Janse van Rensburg, this year’s Argus Cycle Tour winner, eventually ended 24th, 1min 17sec down on winner Kevin Thome of the Wallonie-Bruxelles team.
As is often the case with European races the start was crazy and fast. “At one point I considered stopping to get┬ásome life insurance, no wonder Belgian teams need to pay social security to foreign riders,” joked the Pretoria rider.
“A lot of moves got up the road, and team-mate Bradley Potgieter did a good job being represented┬áat the front,┬ábut where ultimately brought back. Up the Muur it was chaos with a full bunch fighting for position 10km before we hit┬áGeraardsbergen. Riders were┬ádropping chains, jamming chains and┬árunning out of talent as the front riders where riding away.
“This meant a hard chase on the downhill and flatroads for dropped riders. Most of the riders regrouped before we hit the Bosberg the second time, when a break of 13 rode clear in the crosswinds at the top. A lap later another 10 riders went clear at the same spot, and on the Congoberg, 7km later,┬áI got myself in a 14-man split that also rode across. This meant a 37-man group at the front.
“No one really wanted to work together and the pace was due to relentless attacking. With two laps to go a break of five rode clear and got nearly to a minute advantage. With the big bunch breathing down our necks, the pace increased again on the Bosberg. In the last lap we could see the five-man┬ábreak again, the riders who had the legs jumped clear on the Bosberg and again on the Congoberg, Another five joined the five in front with another group behind them, some riders in no-man’s land and then the group I found myself in, the┬áremnants of the break.
“I won the bunch sprint for the third group. No result really, but at least I showed I have good legs for the sprint. I just need the right opportunity and soon I’ll have something to smile about.”
Team-mates Dennis van Niekerk and Meron Russom ended 80th and 84th respectively, 2min 11sec adrift.