Cape Town - New Zealander Sam Gaze has won the Cape Town Cycle Tour, triumphing in a bunch sprint at the end of the gruelling 109km event.
Gaze won the race in a time of 02:39:42 and was followed home by Jason Oosthuizen and Clint Hendricks.
Gaze – who finished runner up in 2018 – was part of a group of 10 riders who got away after Simon’s Town. He called it an “honest race”, thanks to the prevailing Cape Doctor (southeasterly wind) and the depth of the racing field.
“The Dimension Data boys did the work out of Simon’s Town and only around 10 riders could hang on with them,” he said, explaining how Smitswinkel was once again a decisive climb in the race.
Gaze and Dimension Data’s Stefan de Bod attempted to make a break from the group – which included the likes of 2018 defending champion Nolan Hoffman (Team Enza), Namibian journeyman pro Dan Craven, Dylan Girdlestone (OfficeGuru), Byron Munton (Alpha Bodyworks Giant), as well as Jayde Julius and Clint Hendricks – but they were unable to get away.
Despite a valiant chase from the main peloton, the group stayed ahead. There were various surges up front, which saw a few riders dropping off the back up Chapman’s Peak and Suikerbossie, most notable of these, Nolan Hoffman.
As with the women, the men watched each other closely through the last 20, with no-one wanting to go too early or too hard. It stayed together and the bunch sprint was inevitable.
Gaze timed his attack to perfection to take the win on the line. “When I had that right-hander after the roundabout into the final few hundred metres I had a feel of the wind and had made up my mind that I was going to come from behind. Luckily it worked out perfectly.”
The women's 78km race was won by Cherise Willeit making it her fourth overall victory in the Cape Town Cycle Tour.
She finished in a time of 02:16:11 and was followed home by Kim Le Court, the 2018 winner, and Tiffany Keep.
“I absolutely cannot believe it,” an elated Willeit commented shortly after the finish. “It’s just such a special victory for me today, in front of my husband and kids,” she said.
A strong southeasterly wind made for highly tactical racing from early on and the mountain bikers took the fight to the more favoured road teams of Sandton City/Cycle Nation and Demacon MaxWax Racing.
“Dormakaba and Summit Fin went hard right from the start,” Willeit said, explaining how a group of around 30, made up of a mix of mountain bikers and the main road teams, managed to get away at Smitswinkel.
Mountain biker Tiffany Keep attacked on Small Chappies and, along with Candice Lill (Summit Fin) – who won the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge the previous weekend, pushed the pace. By the top of the main Chapman’s Peak climb, the group had been reduced to 10.
“I expected the mountain bikers to do what they did,” Willeit said. “There wasn’t really much opportunity for an attack from there because the mountain bikers set such a solid and fast pace at the front.”
The lead bunch was again split in half on the infamous Suikerbossie climb when Joanna van der Winkel went out, dragging a handful of riders with her.
That group could not take it to the line, however, as cat-and-mouse tactics came into play in the last 10 kilometres, seeing the pace slow.
In the last two kilometres, the storming chase group – featuring defending champion Kim Le Court, was able to reattach. Willeit managed to find a clean line however and fend off the charge of Le Court and co, to take the win.
Men - 109km
1. Sam Gaze - 02:39:42 - (Investec-Songo-Specialized)
2. Jason Oosthuizen - 02:39:42 - (TEG Pro Racing)
3. Clint Hendricks - 02:39:42 - (Pro Touch Continental)
Women - 78km
1. Cherise Willeit - 02:16:11 - (Investec-Songo-Specialized)
2. Kimberley Le Court De Billot - 02:16:11 - (Team Demacon MaxWax Racing)
3. Tiffany Keep - 02:16:11 - (Titan)