Chris Jooste was a relieved man after pulling off a hard-earned victory in the 115km Knysna Cycle Tour today.
Jooste had said before the race that he would have to “race smart” because no other members of his BCX team were taking part.
His tactics paid off and he outsprinted mountain-bike specialist Matt Beers of the NAD Pro team, who had shown his road skills when he won the Mpumalanga Tour in January.
Jooste and Beers were given the same time ‒ 2:43:34 ‒ and Theuns van der Bank took third place in 2:44:12.
“To win was a big relief,” Jooste told In the Bunch. “It was something that had sat in the back of my mind and it was quite rewarding when it worked.”
“It was a quality group and we all worked together really well,” Jooste said afterwards. “We kept a 30-second gap from the bunch until about 60km in, when we snapped.
“It was a committed ride from everyone in the break. The group split a bit, but everyone came back together again as the race wore on.”
When they began the last quarter of the race they knew they were about three to four minutes ahead of the chasing bunch.
“They were tiring at the back and there were not many riders to give chase. It was quite tactical in the break; everyone was rolling from side to side.
“On the last climb, Matt put in an effort and got about 30 metres ahead of me. I knew I had to jump. I got ahead of the other guys but it took quite an effort to get across to Matt.
“I worked with him for the last part of the race. It was a tailwind sprint going to the finish and I used a bit of my road skills to outsmart him.”
The route and conditions, he said, had been a challenge. “One tends to forget how many hills there are in the Southern Cape. It was a rolling route, which is never easy on the legs.
“The wind also made it difficult at times. If I had my team with me, we could have worked together in the wind. But the tailwind from the mountains made for a very fast sprint against Matt.
Jooste will now link up with his team as they set their sights on the Jock Classic on July 14.