RoadCover professional Willie Smit made a telling break up the Hekpoort climb and maintained the gap on the chasing pack to take the honours in the Bestmed Satellite Classic 106km road cycling race at Saloon Route 66 near Hartbeespoort Dam in North West today.
The 23-year-old Nelspruit rider underlined his ability by adding the Satellite title to his victory in the Bestmed Jock Tour three-day stage race in July.
The champion said his team had paved the way for victory, putting him in position to seize the initiative up the Hekpoort climb.
“The race was very fast until Hekpoort when my team set me up for the win, for which I’m so grateful,” said Smit.
“After taking the lead up Hekpoort, there were about 25km to go and it was a matter of staying mentally strong to maintain the gap.”
Smit, whose primary objective for next year is the individual time-trial at next year’s national champs, was pleased with his fitness ahead of next month’s 947.
He added that the Satellite Classic victory was an important scalp for any professional and something he wouldn’t have been able to achieve without his team’s support.
“I have so much to thank my team for because these guys train just as hard as I do and make it possible for me to achieve what I have.”
Lise Olivier, of Time Freight, won the women’s race in a sprint finish, shading Ethiopian Eden Hailemariam for the top podium spot in a time of 3:02:55.
Hailemariam was credited with a time of 3:02:56, with Bestmed-ASG’s Andrea Steyn completing the podium in the same time.
Like Smit, the 33-year-old from Menlo Park in Pretoria went clear over Hekpoort and built an advantage of 45 seconds before the gap closed with 15km to go.
“I was really thrilled to get the win. There were several attacks before I was able to open a gap up Hekpoort,” she said.
“But this eventually closed and in the end it came down to a sprint finish in a group of about seven.”
For more results, news and photos, visit Satellite Classic.