“I’ve competed for the past few years and think I’ve done five in total,” said Van Heerden, who is planning a trip to America to race in T-Town on the track to gain international experience and UCI points.
“I’m happy to win and it’s also my first big-five-classics victory,” he said, referring to the 947 Cycle Challenge, Cape Town Cycle Tour, Herald Cycle Tour and Amashova, which all feature full road closures.
Van Heerden beat Thokozani Mahlangu and Alex Worsdale into second and third place respectively.
The Enza rider said the plan was to keep it together for a bunch sprint for teammate Nolan Hoffman. But at the same time if a small group went away with him or David Maree they could let it go as all three of them were fast on the flats.
“The 100km route changed due to protest action on the M17 towards Pinetown, so it was a two-lap circuit on the M4 towards Umhlanga and back.
“The flat and very fast route changed things a bit from the original, with the big climb up to Pinetown, and it made for lots of fast attacks.”
He said a small group of five managed to slip away at about the 65km mark. It consisted of himself, Worsdale, Dylan Girdlestone, Louis Visser, and Mahlangu.
“We worked together nicely and with about 10km to go and a one-minute lead, Alex and Dylan started attacking us to try to get rid of me.
“My legs felt good and managed to react to all the attacks and [I] played a good strategic game to do as little work as possible. They played into my hands a bit with the way they rode in the last 10km.
“Coming into the last kilometre Dylan put in an effort and strung things out a bit but pulled off and with 500m to go things slowed down completely. I opened my sprint with about 300m to go and the other riders did their best to match me but had no answer.”
The 25-year-old added that their team had their work cut out for them as they were outnumbered by the other teams.
“There was a good fast group of sprinters in Tyler [Day], Ryan [Harris] and Joshua [van Wyk], as well as some hard strong riders like Gustav [Basson], Dusty [Day] and Dylan.
“The bunch had a lot of strong riders, all dangerous in their own way, so we had to manage the situations out on the route carefully.”
Van Heerden said due to him being in the middle of a big training block for his trip to America, coming into the race he did not feel in the best form.
“In the race I also struggled a bit to react immediately to the hard and deep moves, but luckily I managed to work around that and pull it off.”
He said it was always nice to race with full road closures and it was great to see the number of supporters along the way.
“The changed flat route also suited me a bit more as I’m more conditioned to fast flat riding. But at the same time it makes for hard racing all the way through. It’s a lot harder to expose a rider on the flat roads.”