Junior cyclist Rickardo Broxham flew South Africa’s flag high when he won a 95km circuit race in Jesseren, Belgium, last Sunday.
He had to “dig deep”, he said, and the result surprised him, especially after he had failed to get into the early breakaway.
“Winning it was quite special for me,” Broxham told In the Bunch. “I don’t know where those legs came from; I had to really dig deep. I really didn’t expect to win.”
Broxham, 17, who rides locally for ProTouch, said the region in which the race took place was relatively flat, but there was a decisive 400-metre climb with a seven per cent gradient along the route.
The race was over 14 laps, which meant the riders had to go over that hill repeatedly.
“The climb was always something to look out for,” Broxham said. “It resulted in quite a break going away after only about three kilometres.
“There was a rather big junior team, Davo, and we knew those were the guys to keep an eye on.”
Broxham, who lives in Ermelo and won the SA National Road Championships junior road race in February, missed that break, but his SA teammates ‒ Tiano da Silva, Callum Ormiston and Cian Leveridge ‒ were in the mix.
“I knew right then I had to be there as well,” Broxham said. “I made a move on my own and eventually made it over to the break, but I wasn’t feeling too confident at the time.
“My legs were burning and my heart rate was a little too high. I just tried to stay with the break and not to do too much.”
With two laps to go, some riders began to attack from within the break.
“We knew we had to get rid of the Davo guys because they were threatening. We started playing a game of cat and mouse when we still had about two minutes on the bunch.
“When the break stretched out, Callum went up the road with another Belgian guy. I missed out again.
“I didn’t want to roll with another Davo rider to reel Callum back in so I picked up the pace.”
On the final lap, just before the climb, Broxham made a move and closed the gap between him and the two riders at the front.
“I eventually made it over to Callum and the other guy and then we again played cat and mouse.
“With 200 metres to go, we got to a sharp right turn. I went in third, with Callum first. I waited a little and sprinted hard when the time was right.”
The standard of racing in Belgium was “definitely higher” than in South Africa, Broxham said. “My power here is, on average, about 20 to 30 watts higher than in the elite races back home.”