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GEELONG, Australia (VN) — A barely-known 22-year-old from Pretoria, South Africa, upstaged his more experienced rivals to win stage two of the 2011 Jayco Herald Sun Tour in Geelong Thursday.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, riding for the South African MTN Qhubeka Team, was able to outfox former Sun Tour winner Baden Cooke (Saxo Bank-SunGard) and the dominant rider of the Australian domestic season, Steele Von Hoff (Genesys Wealth Advisors), in the sharp uphill dash to the finish that confronted the bunch with 700 meters to go.
“The finish was perfect for me. My teammates put me in the right position with 500 meters to go. This is my first win out of Africa, so I’m very happy,” Janse van Rensburg said.
“After the second KOM I knew it was going to be a bunch sprint. But the last few k’s were quite steep, which suited me. My teammates took me from 40th to 10th – it was perfect. The past couple of weeks we’ve been riding so well together, 100 percent commitment.
“It is a great result for us. We are a Continental team wanting to go Pro Continental next year and then hopefully into the big leagues.”
It was the second day of impressive riding from the South African under-23 time trial champion, who was also with the final breakaway on Tuesday’s stage from Whittlesea to Ballarat, eventually finishing sixth. He is the only rider to have made the top 10 on both days of this year’s Sun Tour, despite not feeling 100 percent in the opener.
“Yesterday I was a bit jet-lagged. But I was feeling super today,” Janse van Rensburg said.
Acknowledging that the most established European-based pros were at the end of their racing year, the South African was nonetheless very happy to have achieved the victory.
“It is the end of the season for the European based riders so they are probably not going so well, but they are world class athletes,” he said.
“I’m feeling strong on the climbs. I’m not a climber – I’m actually a sprinter – but if I can stay with them on the climbs I might have a chance,” the 17th place finisher from the under-23 road race at September’s world championships in Copenhagen, said.
In the meantime, Rhys Pollock retains the overall lead despite losing contact on a couple of occasions with the main bunch. He praised the work of his Drapac Cycling teammates for keeping him in the lead but played down any chance of them retaining it till Sunday.
“This is a bit of a surprise. Our intention wasn’t to keep the lead. We had a few teams trying to intimidate us into doing the work but we stuck to our guns,” Pollock said.
“Darren (Lapthorne) and Adam (Phelan) stayed with me and brought me back when I dropped back, although we never got behind by more than 200 meters. And Stuart Shaw was doing a great job up the front.
“When we got to the last 50km, we decided to have a go to keep the jersey,” Pollock said.
“I am not really sure that we can keep it though – we will see how we go. I have got some fantastic teammates who have shown today they can stay with me and bring me back.
“We will see what happens. It is just great for the team. Our team director will be sitting in the car sticking his chest out, I am sure.”
It would not have been an easy task for Pollock and his team, especially when the peloton had to lift the pace over the final half of the stage to reel in the six-minute lead that had been established by Chris Jongewaard (Budget Forklifts) and Kiwi Tim Gudsell (PureBlack Racing).
Pollock’s overall lead remains as it was after day one – still 15 seconds to Nathan Haas (Genesys) and a further three to Saxo Bank’s Jonas Jorgensen. Janse Van Rensburg was the day’s main mover, moving into fourth at 22 seconds.
Despite the pace at which the stage was ridden – the 140.6km being covered in 3hrs 24:34 at an average speed of over 40kph, all 98 riders who started the stage made it to the finish.
Friday’s third stage from Geelong to Drysdale via Moriac, Lorne and along the Great Ocean Road will surely be the 2011 tour’s most picturesque.
The 173km journey features intermediate sprints at Deans Marsh and the Great Ocean Road Memorial Arch at Eastern View and two KOM summits at Benwerrin and the Eumeralla Scout Camp.