OfficeGuru’s Pritzen admitted that wearing the jersey added “more pressure and expectations”, but said he felt honoured to stand out and be noticed during the race and happy to top it off with a win.
“It was quite a weird feeling moving around within the bunch and with people still congratulating me while we were on the bike,” Pritzen told In the Bunch today.
“That was really awesome. The guys in the bunch have almost become like a family now.
“Everyone was just so supportive and happy for me. I didn’t really expect that and I’m so happy to be part of this.”
The 19-year-old, who was an avid runner growing up and only began cycling three years ago, also surprised himself with the result due to the course not particularly suiting him as a climber.
“This is a race I never thought I’d win because of the finish being so flat. I was quite surprised to win in the end.
“The race was crazy. A breakaway could never really get away. The guys were just following everyone, which made the pace so high.”
He added that as a result no specific rider was marked, including himself in the national colours.
“It felt almost like every other race. Tactically I don’t think anything special came from me wearing the jersey.
“The guys let me go towards the end so I can’t say they followed or marked me more than usual,” he quipped.
Pritzen broke clear of the bunch with about 35km left.
He said TEG Procycling and Cycle Power began picking up the pace on the climb leading out of Heidelberg, which was when his team leader, Dylan Girdlestone, called for reinforcements.
“The bunch was quite strung out and Dylan called us to the front so that we could establish ourselves in that line.
“On the way up I then decided to try and go and make it easier for my teammates so that they didn’t have to do any work.
“I attacked over the top, looked back and to my surprise no one followed.”
Pritzen knew it was still quite a way to go to the finish on relatively exposed roads, but he decided to put his head down after the four-way stop when he held a 25-second lead.
“That was when I thought I should dig in and go all out for this. I got the gap up to around 40 seconds.
“From there it was just a left-turn into Carnival City where I just went as long and hard as I could.
“I held about 20 seconds at the last [set of] robots before the Boksburg Stadium. I knew they weren’t going to catch me because it was downhill to the finish.
“That’s when I started getting a little smile on my face,” he said, adding that he sat up towards the end and beat TEG Procycling’s Ryan Harris by several seconds in the final stretch.
“It was really amazing to win today.”