South Africa’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg of Dimension Data has returned to prominence after a lengthy injury layoff earlier this year, finishing seventh overall at the Deutschland Tour in Germany on Sunday.
Janse van Rensburg was ruled out for most of the first half of the season due to a recurring groin injury.
He suffered a further setback when he got tendinosis – damage to the tendon at a cellular level – in his adductors, a skeletal muscle in the thigh.
After that he took part in his first WorldTour event of the season, the Tour de Suisse, where he managed to finish seventh in stage eight.
The former SA national champion has now finished in the top-10 of all four stages of the German tour, placing fourth, fifth, ninth and fifth respectively.
Despite these top results in races specifically geared towards sprinting, Janse van Rensburg said he was aiming to achieve even more.
“I’m pretty happy with how my form is at the moment. I showed pretty good legs, but I’m not too happy with my result [at the Deutschland Tour],” he told In the Bunch today.
“I would really have liked to get a victory, but unfortunately it didn’t work out that way. I was happy with my form though.”
All the stages had suited him, Janse van Rensburg said, so the team had laid out a plan before the race for him to go for a general classification result as well as a possible victory.
“The first stage was pretty flat and then on stages two, three and four we rode around laps, with each lap ending with up to two-kilometre steep hills.
“That meant every one of those three days the field was reduced to a select bunch.
“The first day was a big sprint at the end and I maybe took a bit of a wrong line, got boxed in and I came fourth, just missing the podium.”
The rest of the stages were “much more tactical”, he added. “The field became a reduced bunch of about 15 to 30 riders each time, which was pretty tricky.
“In those situations it becomes hard to judge what to do in [affecting] the outcome of the race.
“Many guys do not have teammates left in a reduced sprint and then it basically becomes every man for himself.
“I’m pretty sure I was the fastest guy there every time, but it just didn’t work out to take the win. Looking back, I could’ve maybe done things differently.”
He added that in sprints such as these it could get somewhat chaotic between the riders.
“Everyone pretty much fights for all the positions and there are only a few positions from which to win a sprint.
“Timing is also important, so you try not to waste energy and rather stay on the wheels.
“But everyone wants to do the same thing as well. On the first day for instance, I fought with Andre Greipel [from Lotto Soudal]. We had elbows out and it became nerve-racking.”
His teammates played a good supporting role for him throughout the tour, Janse van Rensburg said.
“Bernhard and Renshaw brought me into a good position on the first day for the final sprint,” he said.
“Then on the last day there was a breakaway and guys like Jay stayed near the front to make sure we brought the breakaway back.
“Jacques was also following in the final laps up the climbs to make sure we were always represented in the groups; we kept our control over the race.”
Janse van Rensburg added that overall the mental aspect of the race was the most challenging.
“I was almost at my limit to be in the group every time and going up the climbs, but I had to keep fighting.
“I just didn’t give up and I managed to be one of the last riders in the group to make it every time.”