Johann Naude savoured being the first South African home at the inaugural 160km Gran Fondo World Tour event at the Amashova Durban Classic yesterday.
The 160km route was added to the already existing 106km featured version of the Amashova.
Naude finished second overall, losing out to Norwegian Jonas Orset who completed the race in 4:26:18. Naude finished in 4:28:51.
Orset, 28, is a professional cyclist who rides for the Dare Gaviota Continental team and currently leads the Gran Fondo World Tour.
The 44-year-old Naude, who rides for Bestmed-ASG, said he was delighted with his result, despite not winning.
“It was a well-organised race and it was a great team effort. I would never have achieved this on my own,” Naude told In the Bunch today.
“I’m obviously delighted with the result,” he said, adding that his teammates were Mark Pretorius, Jeandre van Schalkwyk, Christopher van Rooyen, David Labuschagne and Julien van der Pluym.
He said the team set a hard pace from the start in an attempt to break up the bunch, but due to strong headwinds “struggled” to make anything of it.
“About 30km into the race we then attacked Orset, but being a pro we weren’t able to get ahead of him.
“He eventually just went up the road and we weren’t able to catch him. I then got away at around the halfway mark and I was chasing him on my own.”
The SA elite cyclists took part in the 106km version of the Amashova and Naude said he thought this was largely due to the shorter route being sanctioned by Cycling South Africa and not the 160km race.
The extended route was longer than that for any elite race in the country and Naude said this tended to suit the older riders.
“Us older guys normally like the longer distances. We perform a little better with all the miles in our legs and we loved the distance.
“We’ve done many SA tours this year and last year, so we’re actually used to it.”
The Pretoria local said he and the team thoroughly enjoyed the race and route, but that the only problem was when they caught up with the backmarkers on the added loop.
“I thought that if it started to get bigger then it might pose a problem. Otherwise the race was awesome.
“Apart from the wind, which can’t be helped, everything was perfect and the hospitality was five-star quality afterwards. We would love to see this thing grow.”
This was Naude’s first Gran Fondo event and his team plan to take part again next year. It is held in conjunction with the Giro d’Italia.