Johannesburg - South African Robert Hunter won the Mzansi Tour on Sunday after the fifth and final stage, a 123km ride that started and finished at Montecasino.
Hunter's compatriot, Dylan Girdlestone, riding for the Westvaal BMC team, won the final stage, surging to the finish line unchallenged in two hours, 53 minutes, 38 seconds (2:53:38).
“I feel amazing, it’s my biggest career win," Girdlestone said after the race.
“I had initially hoped to win yesterday’s stage 4 to the Union Buildings, as it’s my home town, but the route was changed at the last minute and so I refocused for today’s stage and gave it my all and came victorious."
Hichen Chaabane (VCS) finished the shortest stage of the tour in second position, four seconds off the pace, while Team Bonitas rider Waylon Woolcock was third, a further nine seconds behind.
Hunter, leading the SA National Team, grabbed the Yellow Jersey on the second stage and never looked back, securing overall victory nearly six minutes clear of Frenchman Julien Antomarchi (La Pomme Marseille), who finished second overall, while Italian
Fortunato Baliani (Nippo-De Rosa) took third place.
“I feel really good, I’m happy to have won this tour because it’s been a great week of racing and I’m happy with how it has turned out,” Hunter said.
“I’m really proud with how my South African team has performed after we came here as the underdogs.
“They rode themselves out of their skins to make sure that they can help me as much as they can.”
Thiele Kersten (Rad-Net) whizzed through the first hotspot, 29km into the final stage, leaving the chasing pack three seconds behind.
Soon after, a 10-man breakaway opened a lead of one minute, 45 seconds, and Jason Bakke was the first rider through the King of the Mountain (KOM) point at the Cradle of Humankind.
Richard Handley was forced to pull aside after 57km with a front-wheel puncture, but was soon back with the leading group.
They made their way through the tour's last KOM point, with Richard Laizer the first to cross, and with only 50km remaining, the leaders began to up the pace, stretching the gap to three minutes.
With 20km to go, an attack came from Girdlestone and Chaabane as the chasing peloton tried to close down the advantage, but Girdlestone broke clear to win the stage comfortably.
Apart from his victory in the general classification, Hunter also won the points classification and the best African rider's division.
David Maree, riding for Tasol-GT, won the KOM crown, and JC Nel of the MTN Qhubeka Feeder team was the best young rider.
Results and standings after the fifth and final stage of the Mzansi Tour, which started and finished at Montecasino, on Sunday:
Stage five: 1 Dylan Girdlestone (Westvaal BMC) 2:53:38, 2 Hichen Chaabane (Velo Club Sovac) +0:04, 3 Waylon Woolcock (Bonitas) +0:13, 4 Estifanos Kebede (MTN Qhubeka Feeder) +0:18, 5 Robert Hunter (SA National Team) +0:20, 6 Mauro Rocheze (Nippo-De Rosa) same time, 7 Herman Fouche (Bonitas) st, 8 David Maree (Tasol-GT) st, 9 Theo Reinhardt (Rad-Net Rose) st
General classification: 1 Robert Hunter (SA National Team) 19:42:31, 2 Julien Antomarchi (La Pomme Marseille) +5:56, 3 Fortunato Baliani (Nippo-De Rosa) +6:02, 4 Ian McLeod (FedGroup Itec) +6:05, 5 Paul van Zweel (EuropcarSA) +6:11, 6 David Maree (Tasol-GT) +8:00, 7 Neil MacDonald (FedGroup Itec) +8:49, 8 Dylan Girdlestone (Westvaal BMC) +13:07, 9 Antoine Lavieu (La Pomme Marseille) +13:55
General Classification: Robert Hunter (SA National Team)
King of the Mountain: David Maree (Tasol-GT)
Young Rider: JC Nel (MTN Qhubeka Feeder)
African Rider: Robert Hunter (SA National Team)
Points Classification: Robert Hunter (SA National Team)