Chris Jooste collected the biggest victory of his career at the Tshwane Classic road cycling race in Pretoria today.
The 98km feature event, which started and finished at the Voortrekker Monument, saw around 4 000 participants line up for the inaugural event, which passed many of the city’s major attractions.
Jooste, who lined up alongside pro teams such as BCX and RoadCover, said he took advantage of being a “no-name” brand.
“I didn’t really know what to expect but I knew my legs were good so I just went to try my luck today,” said the 22-year-old Kliprivier resident.
“As it was the first event, nobody really knew what to expect,” said the Gauteng U23 road and time-trial champion.
“We definitely didn’t expect it to be such a windy day out on the highway. That made a big difference.”
The Luso Africa Cycling Club rider said he used the early stages of the race to settle in and read the race until he and RoadCover’s Bradley Potgieter, ProTouch’s Pieter Seyffert and four others set off to catch two riders who had broken away roughly 40km in.
They caught the pair shortly before the first major ascent and together the growing group started climbing to the finish.
“Coming into the last 30km it gets tougher and tougher,” explained Jooste. “When we started the first climb, going over the ridge, I put in some effort and split up the group.”
Then, on the Tom Jenkins climb, roughly 87km into the race, he decided it was now or never and put in a final effort to try and distance himself from his fellow escapees.
“At the top I had about 100m on them and I just had to keep pushing until the end,” said Jooste, who collected the white jersey for best young rider after placing fourth overall at the Mpumalanga Tour in January.
He crossed the line in 2:12:57, a minute ahead of ProTouch’s Jaydé Julius and Dimension Data’s Kent Main, who won the Tour of Good Hope earlier this year.
“I always go to a race to do my best so it’s wonderful to get this result,” said Jooste. “I never expected coming here to win so it’s definitely a great feeling.”