SA riders shine on third day of race

2008-02-04 00:00

South African golden boy of cycling Robbie Hunter, riding for British registered Team Barloworld, took the winner’s jersey in day three of the Intaka Tech World’s View Challenge international cycling race, with Christoff van Heerden from Benoni, riding for SA team Konica Minolta, coming in third.

Hunter took the sprint finish in a fast race with a nail-biting finish, made all the more dramatic when four riders crashed 100 metres before the end of the race.

Yesterday’s King of the Mountain title was won by Kenyan rider Christopher Froome from Team Barloworld.

“Barloworld can be extremely happy with their team working particularly hard today,” said event director Alec Lenferna.

Björne Schroder from German team Milram was second. He was the only non-South African in the top six positions. Jaco Venter from Neotel, Juan van Heerden and Jay Thomson, both from MTN Energade, took fourth to sixth places respectively.

Christoff van Heerden spent ample time on the podium yesterday, as he did on Sunday, when he won both stages of the King of the Mountain. Yesterday, he took third place and also won the Subaru sprint jersey.

The Intaka Tech development team and team Rwanda were praised from the podium today when Lenferna acknowledged the excellent performance both teams put in yesterday.

Today’s honours meant three podium positions in three races for team Milram. Schroder carried the flag with his second place today. Milram are fielding a mostly youthful team in this event, with two senior riders who have previously ridden in the Tour de France — the rest of the team are using the Intaka Tech World’s View Challenge to gain valuable international experience.

The day, which was cooler than Sunday with occasional drizzle, saw some fast riding through the lush countryside around Wartburg, New Hanover and Dalton in a loop that started and ended in Alexandra Park. Lenferna said the racing conditions were perfect.

Hunter and his team enjoyed his first win of the fledgling season today with his sterling ride.

“We came through fighting today but worked hard from the start,” Hunter said.

He praised the Challenge, saying, “I am really impressed with the event — only good words will go back to Europe and the rest of the world from the riders. The organisers, police and traffic department really know that they are doing.

“The next two days will be hard. I am not looking forward to it. I am, however, looking forward to the rest day tomorrow,” Hunter said with a smile.

The Intaka Tech World’s View Challenge teams will be competing both for points on the UCI African leader board and for prize money to the value of R650 000. It is a 1.1 men’s elite stats event — the first of its kind on the African continent. There will be a rest day today, and then more racing tomorrow and Thursday.

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