Hunter makes it two in a row

2008-02-07 00:00

Four South Africans were on the winners’ podium yesterday when the South African pin-up boy of international cycling, Robbie Hunter, made it two in a row.

Hunter, riding for British-registered team Barloworld, took the winner’s jersey again on day four of the Intaka Tech World’s Views Challenge international cycling race.

Joining him on the podium were Christoff van Heerden, riding for Konica Minolta, who came in second; Juan van Heerden, of team MTN Energade, who was third; and Nicholas White, also of team MTN Energade, who was King of the Mountain.

Hunter said, “I had a super lead out at the end which makes all the difference.

“I’m really happy to have won, especially here in my own country where I don’t often get the opportunity to race. It is never easy to win a race.”

Taking the Subaru Sprint jersey yesterday was Austrian national champion Christian Pfannberger of Team Barloworld.

Team Milram were conspicuous by their absence on the podium yesterday after three second places in the first three days.

A last-minute entry, the Durban-based House of Paints team, did exceptionally well yesterday with two finishes in the top 10. Captain Jamie Ball came in 10th and Arran Brown was sixth.

There were a few spills in the road, with six competitors crashing 33 km from the end of the race.

One rider even had his cycle snapped in half.

The leg yesterday was the longest route of the five-day event. Riders took the meandering 133 km through Richmond and surrounds at a punishing pace in extreme temperatures. The top riders reached speeds of 101 km/h.

Team Liquigas set the pace down Fox Hill and into Murray Road.

Temperatures soared into the upper 30s, shade was minimal and the race was tight and fast on a hot, sticky surface.

With only one breakaway group, riders were in a compact bunch for the main part of the race and the break was caught about 5 km from the finish.

Nic White led the race for much of the way. He was absorbed into the group in the last 5 km, which broke into a bunch sprint and gave the victory to the 31-year-old Hunter.

There was much jostling for the top places in a tightly contested finish.

“Wicked!” exclaimed Denzil Ulyate, race director.

“It was an exciting day with fabulous racing from start to finish.

“We saw great riding from Nic White and an incredible effort from all the riders — especially over the last five kilometres.”

Ulyate again praised the traffic management and acknowledged the spectators who came to cheer the cyclists along.

He urged spectators to turn out in force for today’s race, which promises to be a hard ride.

It covers less distance than yesterday, but offers some intense climbing, especially between the four-kilometre and six-kilometre mark.

Ulyate expects an exciting downhill from Boston through Sweetwaters to the finish today — the last day of the five-day international event

“It will be a good way to wrap up a great five days,” Ulyate enthused.

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