Middlelburg - South African rider Robert Hunter
claimed victory in spectacular fashion on the second stage of the Mzansi
Tour after a 189km ride from Lydenburg to Middelburg on Thursday.
prevailed in a sprint finish in five hours, five minutes, 25 seconds
(5:05:25) in what was the longest stage of the International Cycling
Union (UCI) graded tour.
"It was a long, hard day," Hunter said.
"This win was a big surprise for me. I didn’t expect what happened.
the end I just gave it everything and I'm really tired now and have a
lot of recovering to do for Friday, but I'm really happy."
Maree of team Tasol GT, who was close behind Hunter, finished second,
while Christian House of Ralpha Condor JLT was third.
six-man breakaway saw Maree, House, Willem Smit (Team Bonitas), Shaun
Ward (Team Nuwater), Dan Craven (WCCA Mixed Team) and Neil McDonald
(Fedgroup ITEC) open a wide gap just 10 kilometres into the stage,
leaving the peloton two minutes behind.
The gap increased to five
minutes as the leaders headed towards the first King of the Mountain
(KOM) point of the stage, after 33km, where Maree was the first to surge
across and bag vital points.
Later in the stage, the leading
pack rode up a nasty climb in Stofberg, after 133km, and headed towards
the second KOM point, where Maree was again the first rider across. He
was awarded the purple jersey for his efforts.
"I saw myself as the favourite for the KOM jersey. I have good acceleration for the hills," Maree said.
"The only other rider from the group who had points was Smit and I managed to get past him on the second climb.
"I was lucky enough to get maximum points on the day."
late attack by Hunter, riding for the SA National Team, saw him close
the gap on the leaders, and with only 10km to go he surged ahead to take
the lead and win the stage.
"The number one thing was to win the stage and I'm happy with that," said Hunter.
next thing is to worry about and protect the yellow jersey tomorrow. We
haven't got the strongest team in the race but we are going to try and
do whatever we can do.
"There is a lot of pressure now, but obviously I'll fight till the end, but it's not going to be easy."
held the yellow (general classification), green (points) and white
(African leader) jerseys, while Maree took the purple (KOM) jersey and
MTN Qhubeka feeder rider JC Nel retained his white-and-green (best young
Friday's third stage is the flattest of the tour, a 149km leg from Witbank to Mamelodi.