Team Bonitas all-rounder, Hanco Kachelhoffer, showed sharp mid-winter form when he won the 106km Powerade Mountain to Mountain road cycling race in Tzaneen on Saturday.
The 25-year-old professional out-sprinted two breakaway companions to claim his second victory of the year, giving himself and Team Bonitas a confidence boost as they head out of the South African ‘winter dip’ and take aim at the early spring races.
Kachelhoffer was attentive from the start and was in the very first break that went away after 5km. The seven-rider group stayed clear up the early, tough, nine kilometre climb and Kachelhoffer won the sprint to claim the King of the Mountain title. But he was only just getting started.
“My teammate, Johann Rabie, won this race last year and we came into it with the intention of retaining the title for Team Bonitas. It meant that we had to get the right riders in the right moves and we did just that, which was very satisfying,” said Kachelhoffer.
After the big climb, the race came back together with a front group of 15 forming, including five from Team Bonitas, five from MTN Qhubeka and three from Tasol GT, the three professional teams in the race.
Kachelhoffer was in another move that went off the front at 60km along with Richard Baxter (Tasol GT) and James Tennant (MTN Qhubeka), but it was reeled in, setting the race up for what appeared to be a bunch sprint. But it was not to be.
“Another five or six attacks went in succession, but the one that stuck with about 15km left was the race-winning move,” recalled Kachelhoffer. “Myself, James Perry (Tasol GT) and Dennis van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka) got away and quickly got a gap. I think the peloton was tired of chasing all the breaks by then.”
Being a noted time triallist, Perry wasn’t content to let the race go down to a sprint and began attacking from 5km out, but none of his moves were successful. Van Niekerk then began the sprint but it was too soon.
“I knew the finish was on a downhill and I know that on a downhill sprint, the longer you wait to begin your final sprint, the better,” said Kachelhoffer, who dashed past Van Niekerk and crossed the finish line first in a time of two hours 46 minutes and three seconds.
“I’ve spent most of this year looking after Johann Rabie and I think all that hard riding paid off today,” smiled Kachelhoffer. “It’s also good to know that while it would be great to be racing into form in Europe this time of the year, our winter training programme under Doctor Jeroen Swart is working well.”
Kachelhoffer also referred to the changes in the team set-up, which have affected the dynamics.
“Malcolm Lange retired in March and then Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock started doing less road racing and more mountain bike racing with Team RE:CM. That’s three experienced guys out of the equation. But after today, where all the young riders played a key role in this win, we can say for certain that this team has great depth.”
Powerade Mountain 2 Mountain, 106km
1 Hanco Kachelhoffer (Team Bonitas) 02hr 46min 03sec
2 Dennis van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka)
3 James Perry (Tasol GT) all same time
4 Martin Wesemann (MTN Qhubeka) @ 13sec
5 Songezo Jim (Team Bonitas) @ 55sec
6 James Tennant (MTN Qhubeka) @1min 12sec
7 Gawie Combrinck (Team Bonitas) @1min 13sec
8 Johann Rabie (Team Bonitas) same time
9 Adolph Krige (Tasol GT) @ 1min 18sec
10 Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka) same time