Cape Town - Capetonian David George pulled out all the stops on the 5.5km individual time trial hill climb on Friday to not only break his own course record but also leapfrog two places in the overnight rankings to win the overall honours for a fourth Pick n Pay Cape Argus Giro del Capo title.
Digging deep into his physical and mental reserves after three days of gruelling road stages, the 34-year-old riding for team SAfindit.co.za took full advantage of a stiff tailwind on the steep climb from Camp's Bay High School to the top of Signal Hill to shatter the record he set in 2002 by 13 seconds for a new best time of 11 minutes, 47 seconds.
Chasing him for the title for the four-stage Giro and after 425.5km of racing were last weekend's Sani2C Mountainbike Challenge winner, Kevin Evans (MTN), who had the second fastest time on Friday of 11:57, and world Under-23 mountainbike champion Burry Stander (Team Specialized) with the third fastest time of 12:13.
It is a remarkable fact that the first three places were filled by recognised mountainbike riders, with George first in an overall race time of 10 hours, 32 minutes and 26 seconds, Evans second in 10:32:37 and Stander third in 10:32:38.
Tiaan Kannemeyer of Durban's Team House of Paint was fourth in 10:33:52 followed by three Medscheme riders - Waylon Woolcock (10:33:59), Hanko Kachelhoffer (10:34:00) and Nicholas White (10:34:03).
George, who won the country's only international stage race three times on the trot in 2002, 2003 and 2004 said he had waited six long years for his fourth Giro title but that it was worth the wait.
"When I woke up this morning and checked the wind direction and saw it was a south-westerly I sensed that this was a good omen for me as this was how it was when I set the record eight years ago," George said.
He added that the main focus at this stage of his career is the eight-day Absa Cape Epic Mountainbike Challenge at the end of this month.
"We only put a team together for the Giro at the last moment and I wasn't all that confident going into it, but I am extremely happy to have pulled it off," George said.
"I was lying third overall last night after the third stage, 14 seconds behind Burry, so I had to at least wipe out that deficit on the time trial.
"That I not only did that but actually beat him by 12 seconds and Kevin by 10 seconds required a big effort from me."
George will be going flat out in his fourth Cape Epic teamed up with Evans as they look to improve on their third place in 2008 and fourth position last year.
But first there is Sunday's Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour that is attracting all the attention of 35 000 serious and social riders this year, and the team to beat will be Malcolm Lange's Medscheme in the professional category.