The final stage of the Mzansi Tour was meant to be a 5km 15 lap criterium but it was decided that certain sections of the course would just be too dangerous for the peleton to tackle after a number of riders had raised their concerns over the course. With rider safety in mind, the organisers decided to shorten the stage to 25 laps of a 2km route and to also neutralise the Classification Competitions meaning all competition leaders from yesterday would be the winners.
This gave Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung not only the Yellow Jersey but Janse van Rensburg also won the Leading African Rider competition while Louis Meintjes won the King of the Mountains competition and Young Rider Classification. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung also went on to win the team competition and filled the top 4 spots on the General Classification with Janse van Rensburg, Meintjes, Merhawi Kudus and Daniel Teklehaimanot.
Despite the neutralisation of the classification, all the riders were keen and ready to race the final stage of the Mzansi Tour. A small 3 rider break would get 40″ on the bunch but Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung set a relentless pace on the front, leading from lap 1 to 25. Herman Fouche (Bonitas) would win the final stage in the end from Kudus and Matthew Brammeier (Synergy Baku) respectively.
Rider – Jacques Janse van Rensburg
“The team performed awesomely all week, winning the yellow jersey, polka dot jersey, young rider jersey, African jersey and team prize, so it was an awesome week for Team MTN-Qhubeka.
For me personally, it is my first big victory after a few years of struggling with some health problems. It was touch and go but im glad it got sorted out in October. It was definately the right step that i took to improve my career and the result that i got here just proved that the best years of my cycling career are still to come. There were a few times in my career that I’ve been on the edge of giving up but i just pulled through on each occasion and it is paying off now.
This result now gives me a lot of motivation and im sure for the team as well as we head off to Giro del Trentino and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. I think it also improves my chances of getting selected for the Vuelta a little bit.
I also just want to say thank you to my team mates who raced here. Everyone gave 110% effort for this victory and i think the victory means a lot for the team too.”
Directuer Sportif – Douglas Ryder
“The Mzansi Tour was incredibly important for Team MTN-Qhubeka powered by Samsung because being the only Pro Continental team in the race as well as being the only Pro Continental team from South Africa and on the continent for that matter, made this South African race very important to us. With our sponsors MTN and Samsung also being South African and who are funding this whole project made it really important that we brought a really good team to this race to show the level and investment made is paying off.
If we look at the race performance now having the first 4 positions overall, winning 4 of the 5 competitions and the team competition by 7 minutes with a team of only 6 riders and defending the jersey from literally the first road stage after the prologue just shows the depth and the quality of the riders and also the investment that is being made in international racing and in Europe is putting them at a higher level. When these riders go to Europe they racing against the World Tour and they often dont think that they are improving so now coming back to South Africa and doing what they have done this week does show that all the investment, time, effort and training and the quality of racing they are exposed to just shows in this race.
Going forward now, since we’ve been invited to the Vuelta just one week ago, Jacques has said in many interviews how important it is for all of them to show what they can do in racing because there is internal competition to be 1 of those 9 riders that goes to the Vuelta. The first African team to start a Grand Tour, those riders will be remembered forever becuase if someone googles in 10 or 20 years time the transformation of African cycling, where did it start and who were the pioneers, it was those 9 guys. So it’s healthy competition and healthy rivalry that will make it interesting to see how the guys push each other to get into the tour.
This was a significant performance but one that was not so much around the Vuelta but more so showing their quality and improvement against their old competitors here in South Africa. “