Team NAD’s Combrinck, who had finished second overall in the Cape Pioneer Trek in October last year, said afterwards his team had put in a few attacks against BCX’s Chris Jooste in the last 10km, which opened the way for him.
“Matt [Beers] went first, which forced Chris to chase,” he said. “Then, by the time Matt had moved back, Wessel [Botha] went to the front, which again made Chris chase on his own.
“After Wessel was brought back, I countered and they (the leading bunch) just let me go; probably because I was a little behind on time from yesterday’s second stage.
“The other guys were all watching Chris and we (NAD) outnumbered him at the front.
“I managed to build a decent gap and to hold on to the lead,” said Combrinck, who was delighted about clinching a stage win for his team.
NAD ended up with four riders among the top 10 at the finish: Combrinck, Beers, Botha and Nico Bell.
“Overall, it was a really good day at the office for the team,” said Combrinck. “We were all strong at the front and controlled the race well.”
The 31-year-old said the team had put the other riders on the back foot by beginning to attack early.
“We had not planned to do that,” Combrinck revealed, “but we saw the other guys were pushing hard on the first climb, so Matt went hard as well.
“Our whole team were pretty much at the front and we worked well together to force the rest to chase.”
They had seen an opportunity to rotate their attacks, Combrinck said, but tried to save energy by varying them. “After setting the pace, we took turns to push forward.
“There are still a few hard days left and we have to preserve our energy. But I’m glad it worked out today.”
Not even a puncture about 50km from the finish could deny Combrinck.
“It was a big challenge to catch up,” he said. “Fortunately it was at the top of Long Tom Pass, so I didn’t lose too much time.
“I then did a lot of work from the back to help the other guys for the rest of the way,” he explained.
Combrinck, mainly a mountain-bike specialist, hinted that his team’s knowledge of the route may have favoured them.
“Both Nico and I are from Nelspruit (Mbombela),” he said. “We know the roads quite well.
“We managed to execute perfectly and it was extra special to win in my home town.”