The Positive Sports Solution rider was narrowly beaten to the line by five-time winner Cherise Willeit.
Herald Cycle Tour champion Hayley Preen rounded out the podium.
“It feels surreal to have been so close to that win. And, actually, just finishing on the podium of this big race as a 19-year-old is more than I could’ve wished for,” said the current U23 national road and time-trial champion.
“I must say I was a little disappointed to have been so close, but it was immediately overshadowed with joy when I realised I was second in the biggest race in SA.”
She said physically she was absolutely drained after the event.
“It was a very hard and aggressive race. I was also in a bit of a dark place mentally after I dropped back on Suikerbossie, but I just put my head down and decided to give it all I had to fight for a podium spot.
“So my mental game was back on point when it came down to the sprint.”
Janse van Rensburg said her goals were to race hard, positively and to the best of her ability.
“I dreamed of winning it, yes, and did ride for the win. But a realistic goal was to end on the podium and I am so happy to have achieved that.”
She said the pace in the 78km race was all-out from the gun, as she expected, and mountain-biker Ariane Luthi made it hard and aggressive.
“Going up Chapman’s Peak I was sitting just behind her. It was crazy hard to say the least. Then I dropped when another few riders attacked from the back in the final metres up the climb, but I caught up to the front again on the downhill.
“Then on Suikerbossie I decided to drop a bit back in the final hundred metres to save energy for the sprint. So then again I went all out on the downhill to catch up with the small front group.”
Janse van Rensburg said it was a very fast final 5km, with attacks flying all over.
“I went with all of them and was sitting second to third wheel the whole time. The sprinting actually started about 800m out already and I went with it.
“I kicked quite a few times and was in the front the whole time. Then in the last 200m I saw the line and started my final sprint and Cherise caught me just before the line, so it was more like a drag race to the line.”
She said the race went very much to plan, for which she was grateful.
“Though there was an obstacle. I crashed hard on the road on Wednesday before the race and was still today very sore and had some road rash on my hands and right side.
“So I came into the race not feeling exactly as I had hoped, but decided to not let it bother me and just did my best anyway.”
“Overall, it was a very strong and aggressive women’s field today with 86 riders in the elite bunch.
“It was so good to see the hard and positive racing and I believe there is a bright future for women’s cycling in SA.”
Personally, she felt it was special to have finished second in her first attempt. It was also good to see that all the hard work had paid off.
“Career-wise I think this will give me another level of confidence going forward and it’s a stepping stone in the right direction.
“Although it would’ve been amazing to win, I knew it would definitely not be an easy task, especially not on my first attempt. And there will also be a lot of chances in the future.
“So I will definitely be back next year and in the following years to give it my best again and to enjoy this beautiful race,” said Janse van Rensburg, who will now prepare for the African Continental Road Championships in Mauritius at the end of the month.