Mecer-NMMU showed that they were in good shape ahead of the defence of their South African student title next week when they dominated the Makana Brick Grocott’s Mail Cycle Tour over 80 kilometres in Grahamstown on Sunday.
Eastern Province elite champion Conrad Viljoen crossed the line in 2hr 07min 01sec to lead home team-mates Reghardt Koen, Ronnie Scheffer and Jarred Salzwedel.
ÔÇ£Today was an important test before the championships (in Bloemfontein),ÔÇØ said Viljoen, who won the national event two years ago and finished fourth last year as Mecer-NMMU won the team classification for the first time.
ÔÇ£Today’s race was short enough to leave us fresh, but fast enough to give us fantastic race training.ÔÇØ
He said the race also gave them valuable insight into each rider’s form ahead of Bloemfontein. ÔÇ£It has given us an indication of where each rider fits in and what his role will be.ÔÇØ
Mecer-NMMU took the race ÔÇô which was pushed along by a near gale force tailwind over the first half ÔÇô by the scruff of its neck as soon as the bunch left the neutral zone and within five kilometres a leading group of seven had formed.
The leaders were reduced to four at the first major climb (after 20 kilometres) and from then on in the race turned into a procession as the main field raised the white flag.
Two kilometres after the turn a faltering Salzwedel was unable to match his team-mates into the teeth of the wind and was left behind to fend for himself as the team pushed to better the course record (2:04).
It was Viljoen’s second major victory on the road in as many weeks after notching up his fourth win in the Makro-Defy Cycle Tour in Port Elizabeth last weekend.
His run of form started with an equally impressive victory in the St Francis Mountain Bike Challenge the previous weekend and he has now set his sights on individual and team honours in Bloemfontein.
ÔÇ£I haven’t been able to put in as many miles as in the past, but the upside is that I will be fresh. I can feel that my form is on an upward curve and I’m confident everything will come together nicely next week.ÔÇØ
The final team will be released later this week.