Edwards completed the race in 4:26:53, seven seconds clear of WCA’s Redwan Salih Ebrahim in second. ProTouch’s Gustav Basson rounded out the podium another two seconds behind.
“I am speechless. This is my first ever race as a pro cyclist so it means a lot,” he told In the Bunch after the race.
The 19-year-old Edwards, from the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, said their team’s objective in the “queen” stage was to eliminate the sprinters.
“We wanted to get rid of all the sprinters early on – on the first climb – so I went as hard as I could on that climb. I got rid of as many riders as I could, but at the top of the climb ProTouch’s Jayde Julius and James Fourie attacked.
“They were gone for most of the race,” he said. “BCX just worked and worked before they [the ProTouch leaders] were eventually caught with about 30km to go.
“There were then many attacks off the front. I was near the front just trying to cool the tempo down and save my legs.”
Edwards saw the opportunity to make a decisive move with about eight kilometres to go.
“Everyone was on my wheel and I saw the opportunity to jump. I jumped and it opened up a big enough gap for me to break away. I put everything into it and eventually made it to the finish line in first [place].”
The distance, Edwards said, was difficult under the prevailing conditions. “It was really long. It was a real challenge, especially with the heat and strong winds.”
He felt BCX’s Clint Hendricks and ProTouch’s Basson were the strongest riders on the day.
Edwards said it would be important to “hold tight” onto their general classification positioning in tomorrow’s team time-trial stage.
“We would need to hold on and give it our best in the time-trial so that the team does not lose time on the GC obviously.”
View the results here.