OfficeGuru Racing made their mark at the Takealot Tour of Good Hope by taking the third-stage team time-trial in the Cape Winelands today.
With two stages left in South Africa’s premier road cycle race, the outfit delivered national U23 road champion Marc Pritzen to the yellow jersey in the 26.5km leg which finished at Boland Landbouskool just outside Paarl.
After two bunch finishes left the leading riders deadlocked on the same time, OfficeGuru completed the time-trial in 34:09.
They were followed by TEG Procycling (34:41) and Team Enza (34:56).
Pritzen heads the overall standings on 4:31:30, the same time as team-mates Dylan Girdlestone, Travis Barrett and Alex Worsdale.
Senior team rider Girdlestone said they overcame an early hiccup to produce a smooth ride on a tough course, where windy conditions made sure they had to get their tactics right.
“It was a bit of a rush to get to the start and we arrived with only about 10 seconds to go,” he said. “In fact, one of our guys didn’t make it, so we had to start with five riders.
“And then we lost Andrew Edwards at the 7km mark after he went a bit hard at the front and wasn’t able to recover.”
From there, he added, they had a smooth ride, making sure they focused on the best strategy given the windy conditions.
“Communication between us was the key and we were able to negotiate the route fairly smoothly and took all four of our GC contenders across the line, so we are very happy with that.
“We did a recon of the route last week so we knew where to push hard and we also kept in mind the possibility of facing windy conditions.”
Girdlestone said the outfit was in a good space with two stages to go, but realised there were some challenges ahead.
“We know the queen stage tomorrow [over 127km] includes two climbs over Bainskloof Pass and that it provides an opportunity to open the GC gaps even more.
“I have ridden the pass before but some of our guys haven’t, so we will sit down for a route recon this afternoon to plan our strategy.”
In the women’s race, Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska won her second stage in a row, finishing the route in 40:44, half a minute ahead of Kross Fit Racing colleague Ariane Luthi.
It meant Wloszczowska, competing in the Tour of Good Hope for the first time, will take a lead of 26 seconds into tomorrow’s queen stage, one which should suit her strong climbing ability.
Defending champion Luthi was second on the time-trial podium in 41:16, followed by Liezel Jordaan.
The same three riders head the general classification, with Jordaan five seconds behind Luthi.
Wloszczowska was delighted to take another stage win, even if she said a time-trial for her was just “pain, pain and more pain”.
“I felt good in the warm-up, but then I think I started a bit fast and suffered a bit during the ride,” she said.
“I was trying to keep a steady pace and had the advantage of starting last so I could see the girls in front of me and it was motivation to try to close the gap a bit.
“I’m looking forward to the stage tomorrow with its two climbs.”
Caption: The OfficeGuru Racing outfit took the honours in the 26.5km team time-trial on the third day of the Takealot Tour of Good Hope in the Cape Winelands today. The five-stage road cycle race finishes at the Taal Monument near Paarl on Friday. Photo: Henk Neuhoff Photography