Reinardt Janse van Rensburg relied on a strong performance from his Dimension Data teammates and their development team cohorts to take his first-ever national title Sunday at the South African Road Race Championships in Wellington.
Janse van Rensburg joined Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider Stefan de Bod in a late two-man move that saw the duo cross the line together, with Janse van Rensburg claiming the elite title and de Bod defending his U23 crown.
"This is the first time I have won the nationals road race in any category so it is a very special moment for me," Janse van Rensbrug said. "The team was fantastic today, they really did a super job. The conditions suited us with the strong crosswinds, we were always hoping for the wind today and without the wind to make the race hard, it could've been trickier for us."
The 180km race started with six riders breaking away from the bunch, including Dimension Data's Jacques Janse van Rensburg. When the race hit crosswinds at the midway point, the Dimension Data riders blew the field apart, putting five riders in a group of seven that broke free from the bunch and set off in search of the six leaders.
Meanwhile up the road, Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Willie Smit (Roadcover) jumped away from the breakaway group as it began to splinter. The remnants of the break were soon caught and dropped by the chase group, and then Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Smit were also reeled in.
De Bod attacked next with about 50km to go and was soon joined by Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Smit. The trio opened a 1:30 gap over the rest of the race. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and de Bod then dropped Smit with 20km to go.
"We put the race in the gutter after 90km and then it became a numbers game," Reinardt Janse van Rensburg said. "Stefan was really incredible, what a talent he is, but I thank the whole team for this victory. This a dream come true for me and I will wear the national jersey in Europe with pride."
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg crossed the line first to take the elite gold medal and the national jersey, while de Bod finished second to claim U23 title. Smit held on for third place, with Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data) fourth and Jacques Janse van Rensburg fifth.
"The U23 race went really well for us today," de Bod said. "In the end my strongest competition was my teammate, Nicholas, and we obviously weren't even racing against each other. So in the overall race I saw an opportunity to attack and it worked out really with Reinardt coming across to me with Willie. This is a great start to the year for me, and I just hope I can take this form to Europe now as doing well in Europe is my main focus this year."