The Qhubeka Academy cyclists had lots to smile about as they finished the Wilro Lions Cycle Challenge Junior Race, with Estephan Kotze taking the Juniors win and Jarrod Hattingh winning the U/16 race.
The race took place on Sunday 21 April. “After two days of solid rain, we were happy to see that the rain had cleared,” says Team Manager Carri-Ann Botha. “Racing started in thick heavy mist, and because of this, it started slowly as riders wanted to warm up. It was only about 15km into the race as we headed past Maropeng that the racing heated up and some attacks started to take place.”
Due to the Mzansi Tour taking place over the same period, the Elite Bunch was considerably smaller than normal, so the Juniors raced with the Elites. “It was the Juniors, however, who managed to get the first breakaway going, with Kent Main (A[S]G) and Oupa Maluleke (Panda). These two worked well together to eventually open up a gap to just over 2’00. Rohan du Plooy (A[S]G U/23) eventually bridged the gap to Main and Maluleke. However, Maluleke soon dropped off this breakaway, leaving Main and du Plooy out on the open exposed roads alone. With the wind pumping, these two riders were brought back to the main peloton before the finish.”
Once the break had been brought back, the peloton rolled through towards the finish with no attacks managing to get away. “As we entered Tarlton International raceway and headed up the drag strip towards the finish line, we could see all the sprinters trying to organise themselves,” says Botha. “Luck played out well for Estephan Kotze (Qhubeka Academy) as he managed to take the win for the Juniors comfortably. Jarrod Hattingh also did well to win the U/16 race, adding yet another victory to his long list of victories this season.”