MyVelo’s Van Heerden, who had surprised many with a podium finish at the 947 Cycle Challenge two months ago, rode at a steady pace, which enabled him to break away on the final 8km after the climb.
Van Heerden had no teammates in the 20-man bunch to provide support on the home stretch and was forced to stay in the middle and at the back.
“It made it difficult to position myself,” he told In the Bunch. “I couldn’t stay near the front, so I had to shift back.
“I managed to keep a proper pace before moving towards the front just before the climb,” Van Heerden said.
“They went hard on the first 300 metres and then swung over. That’s when Chris Jooste saw the opportunity to take over.
“I also decided to move up and keep the pace fast. About 800 metres into the climb, I looked back and saw the bunch had broken up.”
Van Heerden continued to ride solo in front “but not long after that Chris and Matt Beers caught up and the three of us stayed together.
“I jumped ahead to take the King of the Mountain at the top of the climb, and we worked well together until the final kilometre,” he said.
The three of them set off on a bunch sprint to the finish, playing a game of cat and mouse as they raced on.
“Chris led for the first half of the sprint, with Matt and me chasing. Then I jumped to the front with about 200 metres to go. I didn’t look back.”
Van Heerden said the race conditions had been rather challenging on the fourth day.
“At times, the road surface was rough, so there was constant pedalling throughout. The wind was also a factor, making it harder for everyone.
“I’m very happy with the result, though. I had planned to take today’s stage and I’m glad it worked out,” he added.
Today’s penultimate stage is from Mbombela Stadium to eManzana and tomorrow’s final stage from Manzana to the finish at Loskop Dam.