|Pro cyclist Jayde Julius risked all when he joined an early breakaway on the second stage of the Bestmed Jock Tour, but his gamble paid off when he soloed to victory in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, today.
The ProTouch rider was part of a four-man group – alongside teammate Gustav Basson, RoadCover’s Bradley Potgieter and Rand Water’s Thulasizwe Mxenge – who split from the peloton 20km after the start at the Mbombela Stadium.
“It was a big gamble because it was so early, considering I was so high in the general classification, said Julius, who placed fourth after yesterday’s 27km uphill time-trial to Kaapsehoop.
Mxenge fell behind before the group reached the base of the first of the day’s two major climbs, Spitskop, which topped out 78km into the 154km stage.
Basson slowly lost touch with Julius and Potgieter on the ascent, but the leaders waited for him as they crested the climb and together they continued on to Long Tom Pass.
“Gustav rode himself inside out and was able to take me to Long Tom,” said Julius. “From there I rode with Brad, but I dropped him on the climb with maybe 45km to go.”
After the sacrifices from his team, the 24-year-old from Honeydew in Johannesburg said not winning was simply not an option and he rated his charge to the finish as one of his greatest efforts.
“Coming to the line was the biggest pursuit of my life because I had a headwind that I had to fight and I knew Brendon Davids was coming, so it was a massive time-trial again after yesterday.”
Julius, who grew up in the Western Cape, took stage honours in 4:14:23 and also donned the Optimum Financial Services king of the mountains and points jerseys.
Davids finished 13 seconds down and now provisionally leads the general classification after collecting his second runner-up spot in as many days.
ProTouch’s Myles van Musschenbroek completed the podium a further 50 seconds adrift to move into provisional third.
With the overall victory within his grasp, Julius said his aim on tomorrow’s final stage over 138km would be to put in a serious bid for the title.
“My goal tomorrow is to try and go for yellow, that’s a definite. Now that I’m in the position to go for it, I’ll really go for it.
“I’m quite nervous because I know Brendon and I are so close. It’s going to be a big fight to the end.”
Demacon’s Carla Oberholzer won the women’s race after she too soloed to victory.
The 29-year-old from Clarens in the Free State explained she had started conservatively as she first wanted to see what race leader Yolandi du Toit (Garmin) had up her sleeve.
It was Oberholzer’s teammate, Elmarie de Wet, who went up the road in the early stages.
“She got a gap of four minutes and when we reached Spitskop I rode across to her just before the mountain prime and we went on to enter Sabie together.”
The two continued to lead until Oberholzer left De Wet behind on Long Tom Pass.
After winning the opening day individual time-trial, Du Toit crossed the line in second to drop down one position in the standings. Team Bestmed-ASG’s Sanet Coetzee, who won the Jock Classic recently, was third to finish.
“Tomorrow we’ll just take it one kilometre at a time and see how the racing plays out,” said Oberholzer, who showed that she was getting close to her best form when she won the recent Cycle4Cansa Championship.
“I’ll race whoever wants to go for it otherwise we’ll just defend the yellow jersey’