ProTouch rider JC Nel set the pace on the opening stage of the Bestmed Jock Tour when he edged his rivals for the yellow jersey in the individual time-trial at Kaapsehoop outside Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, on Friday.
The 27km time-trial, which is presented by Rudy Project, saw the riders set a fast pace and Nel said they were “three-and-a-half minutes faster than last year”.
Nel wondered at one stage whether he had out gone too hard, but said his knowledge of the course after testing it in training camps prior to the race had assisted him.
“After about 20 to 25 minutes I wondered if the pace was too quick, but then I was nervous to slow down too much so I just kept going.”
Knowing there was a hard climb at around the 20km mark, Nel said he did not overdo it which “allowed me to pick up the pace on the last stretch which was fairly flat”.
Nel said their plan was to aim for the top spot on the podium, but acknowledged that had created a bit of pressure.
“The idea was to aim for the yellow jersey, but having the idea and actually doing it are sometimes two different things,” said Nel. “I am really happy with how it turned out.”
Having achieved his objective, Nel knows there is still much work to be done.
“Although the guys in our team are young and do not have much experience, they have big hearts and real fighting spirit. We are ready for the next challenge.”
Saturday’s second stage, which starts and finishes in Nelspruit, is over 140km and the route, via White River and Sabie, includes climbs such as Spitskop and Long Tom Pass.
The traditional one-day Bestmed Jock Classique, which consists of three stages totalling 154km with 2 900m of climbing, takes place tomorrow alongside the feature event.
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