Stage victory gives Reinardt renewed hope | SASCOC - SASCOC

Stage victory gives Reinardt renewed hope

After winning the first stage of the recently completed Tour of Rwanda, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Energade) is a man on a mission. It was his first ever win outside South Africa and there is nothing like a breakthrough victory to boost a rider’s confidence. Janse van Rensburg says he intends to be a serious contender for a stage win or two during next year’s inaugural Tour of South Africa.

ÔÇ£The most important lesson that I have learned in Rwanda is that, if you don’t believe in your own abilities as a rider, you will never succeed. The main reason why the riders from Eritrea dominated the African Road Championship as well as the Tour of Rwanda, was that they made no secret of the fact that they were determined to win.

ÔÇ£In fact, the riders from Eritrea have to win if they want to survive as professional cyclists, because they don’t enjoy the luxury of being paid good salaries that we as South African cyclists have.

ÔÇ£The winner of the Tour of Rwanda, Daniel Teklehaimanot, is a world class rider in the making. I will not be surprised if he should win the Tour of South Africa.ÔÇØ

There is a good reason why Janse van Rensburg is so excited about his stage victory in Rwanda. “Until the Tour of Rwanda I simply could do no better than second,” Janse van Rensburg explained.

The week before the tour, during the African Road Championship which was also hosted in Rwanda, Janse van Rensburg won four silver medals, i.e.  2nd in the team time trial, 2nd  in the elite individual time trial, 2nd in the Under-23 individual time trial and second in the Under-23 road race.

During the Tour of Morocco he finished second in stages no less than five times.

Janse van Rensburg caused quite a surprise by finishing third overall as well. ┬áBefore the beginning of the tour nobody would have expected a big rider like Janse van Rensburg to be a yellow jersey contender, especially because the Tour of Rwanda is considered to be one of Africa’s toughest tours. The riders were either racing up mountains or down mountains for most of the time in all nine stages of the tour.

Apparently Janse van Rensburg was not put off by the steep climbs because he managed to achieve five top-10 finishes. One can only wonder what would have happened if he did not become ill after riding through a tropical rain storm during stage four. He suffered from a sore throat the following day and by Stage Six he was officially ill, coughing and sneezing.

There was no way that Janse van Rensburg was going to allow a bug to get the better of him but, nevertheless, his illness effectively put an end to his last realistic chance of challenging for the coveted yellow jersey. After Stage Four Janse van Rensburg was only one minute and 21 seconds behind the leader, but after blowing his nose for the umpteenth time he was 2min and 11sec behind.

Becoming ill was not Janse van Rensburg’s only setback during the tour.┬áHaving won the first stage, he started stage two clad in yellow but, as luck would have it, punctured three kilometers from the finish and lost over 1:40 minutes because the team car was way behind.

Luckily for him, the UCI commissaires had decided before the race that Stage Two would be a flat stage.┬á Therefore the South African puncheur (tactically savvy cyclist) was given the same time as the rivals he was riding with before the incident, so that he only lost 13 seconds on the day. “I was really lucky,” said the South African. “But it’s still a pity that I had to finish with a flat back-wheel tyre.ÔÇØ

Janse van Rensburg reckons that his MTN-Energade teammate, Adrien Niyonshuti, was the tour’s most unlucky rider. ÔÇ£After stage four Adrien was the overall leader. described Niyonshuti’s heroics as follows: ÔÇ£The Rwandan team took comfort from the performance of their leader Adrien Niyonshuti who attacked the peloton at 60km to go.

“I saw nobody was following me so I extended my effort,” Niyonshuti said. After a 10km solo effort, the Rwandan joined the breakaway which soon exploded on the challenging terrain. With 30km remaining in the stage only Niyonshuti, Berhane and Craven remained at the head of the race.ÔÇØ

Niyonshuti wore the yellow jersey for two stages but his chances of winning overall came to an end during the seventh stage when he suffered a misfortune at the 34km mark.  He punctured on a descent and lost about 45 seconds. As a result of this mishap, he dropped from second to seventh in the general classification.

Janse van Rensburg reckons that Niyonshuti would have won the tour if it were not for the puncture. ÔÇ£You should have seen Adrien ride. He was definitely one of the strongest riders.ÔÇØ