Kent Main has experienced the good, bad and ugly of a single second after winning and losing two major South African cycling tours by that margin.
The talented climber came from behind on the final day of the 2017 Tour of Good Hope to beat Myles van Musschenbroek by a second, while losing out to Italian Samuele Battistella at the Tour de Limpopo.
“Winning the Tour of Good Hope was such an amazing feeling and it didn’t matter that it was only by one second. What mattered was that I won.
“Being on the other end of that now in Limpopo, you really do see that second as a massive hurdle that you weren’t able to overcome.”
The 23-year-old East Rand Classic champion however felt it was two very different scenarios and hard to say if there was anything that he would have done differently.
“Once you’ve finished and you don’t have the pressure of the race on top of you, then you start to think if it was possible to have made any changes, but it’s hard to say for sure.
“As it stands, I feel I gave everything I could and I think I’m learning that cycling is a very harsh sport. You’ll lose more than you’ll win.”
Main added that the Tour of Good Hope was all about a breakaway that the bunch never read properly and the riders in the move with him all jumped high up in the general classification.
“It came down to the last day where I had to close something like 50 seconds to win and I managed to do so.
He felt it was tricky going into the final day, but knew there was a hotspot offering a time bonus 19km in.
“The only problem was that directly after that was a 6km climb. Say I’d gone for a long-range attack to get the bonus, Dimension Data would have ridden the bunch to pieces up the climb and I would’ve been isolated for 90km against four of them.
“I tried to attack in the final circuit, but it was just not hard enough to get any gap and Battistella closed me down pretty quickly.”
Main, who finished 13th in this year’s Tour de Langkawi, said he did not think it was necessarily always the strongest rider who won in cycling.
“There are many factors that change the outcome and I suppose this is what makes the sport so entertaining and exciting.
“I do feel that at the Tour of Good Hope I wasn’t a favourite to win from day one, so it may have come as a surprise to some. But, in Limpopo, I personally felt I was a favourite and had the potential to win.”
Main will now enjoy a short break from racing as he prepares to head overseas with his team in July.
“For now it is back to having fun, riding without as much structure, doing longer easier rides and enjoying some new routes.”