MTN Qhubeka's Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, one of South Africa's next generation of cycling stars, dominated the elite men's time trial at the South African national championships in Nelspruit on Thursday, installing himself as an early favourite for Sunday's road race.
The 23-year-old Pretoria resident was elated with his victory after a dedicated preparation to get himself in the best possible condition for the event.
"It's quite special to be the South African time trial champion," said Van Rensburg. "The team trained here in Nelspruit two to three weeks ago and we knew the course really well.
"Since the start of the season I knew that I could win this, and the preparation has paid off. The course was undulating and quite hard. I realised that if I was in trouble on the course, that I would not be able to make up the time again, and fortunately I managed to pace myself well."
The South African picked up several top-10 GC results while riding for MTN-Qhubeka last year, as well as a stage win at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, where he edged fast-men Baden Cooke and Steele Von Hoff in a tough finish in Geelong. Encouraged by his performances he's been raising his ambitions higher over the past 12 months, and is even confident of doing the double come Sunday's road race.
"I'm feeling quite positive for Sunday," said Van Rensburg." Some of the pressure to get a result has been relieved now, I'll do my best."