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Lange looks at a third

After winning the last two editions of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, Team Bonitas Medscheme is poised on a hat-trick opportunity to claim the title, the mainstream media exposure and the 12-months of bragging rights that go with winning the world’s largest cycle race.

Over 35,000 cyclists tackle the annual 108-kilometre lap around the Cape Peninsula at the southern tip of Africa, starting and finishing in the picturesque city of Cape Town. And while thousands are competitive on some level ÔÇô┬á even if it’s just beating their previous best time ÔÇô the group of professional racers that start first (at 5.45am!) is where the real racing is to be found.

Last year, Malcolm Lange, team owner and captain of Team Bonitas Medscheme (then called Team Medscheme), outsprinted a breakaway group of 12 to capture his third win in the race, which has helped create South African household heroes during its 33-year history.

The fact that seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong, was in that breakaway group last year played a key role in more than doubling the usual mainstream media exposure of the race, giving Lange’s victory a long, sweet aftertaste.

In 2009, Lange’s prot├®g├®, Arran Brown, captured South Africa’s most famous road race title. Brown was out injured last year, forcing Lange to take on the responsibility of sprinting for the win himself. This year, Lange’s new prot├®g├®, Tyler Day, will be filling the role of Lange’s new lieutenant.

Following his win at the Herald VW Classic in South Africa last month, followed a few days later by his third place behind, Elia Viviani (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Robbie McEwan (Radio Shack) at the first leg of the Tour de Mumbai, India, Day has quickly shown that despite being a first year professional, he’s got pace and courage and is not to be underestimated.

Despite his age, 37, Lange is still a contender for the title. He’s still a quick sprinter, but prefers to split the race up and eliminate the chance of a mass bunch dash, giving Team Bonitas Medscheme handy additional options.

Adding all-important backing to sprinters Lange and Day are allrounders, Johann Rabie, Neil MacDonald, Luthando Kaka and Hanco Kachelhoffer, climber Waylon Woolcock and newcomer Songezo Jim. It’s a squad that’s well balanced and which leans towards experience, essential in a race that’s so important to South African sponsors.

ÔÇ£The wind has played a role in deciding the outcome at the last two editions, both of which we have won. We’re aware of that and riders with experience can usually read the wind better. I’ve also picked my in-form riders, who have really impressed me at the Tour de Boland stage race which is currently taking place,ÔÇØ said Lange.

ÔÇ£The Cycle Tour is such a short race with so much pressure on everyone to win ÔÇô it’s really a lottery. There’s always a dark horse of course, but we’ve got a plan as we had in the past two years that we hope will work out in our favour,ÔÇØ added the defending champion.

With only moderate winds forecast for Sunday, a large bunch sprint is most likely. Expect MTN Qhubeka’s quartet of sprinters, Arran Brown, Daryl Impey, Christoff van Heerden and Reinhard Janse van Rensburg to provide the bulk of the opposition, while DCM’s Herman Fouche, showing good form after a two year suspension, will join the quest to spoil the two-time champion team’s quest for a hat-trick.

The race will be broadcast live in South Africa on SuperSport 5 from 06h00.


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