Jason Oosthuizen outduelled fellow teenager Marc Pritzen to win his first major road classic in the 20th edition of the Takealot Berge & Dale cycling race in Krugersdorp on the West Rand today.
In a two-man breakaway over the final few kilometres in the 108km feature race, the TEG ProCycling rider edged the in-form Pritzen in the sprint for the finish up Krugersdorp hill.
He crossed the line in 2:29:09, with Pritzen (OfficeGuru Racing) centimetres behind and credited with the same time. Travis Barrett, also of OfficeGuru, completed the podium in 2:29:23.
As a Krugersdorp resident, the 19-year-old Oosthuizen said it was a special feeling to win a race in his own backyard.
“I have raced it a couple of times and contended as a junior, but never won the event,” he said. “So this was a really good moment for me and my team.”
He won the national U23 road title last year, but said this was a major victory for him in the elite category.
Oosthuizen said the race boiled down to an attack on the Sterkfontein climb after a group of 15 riders had broken away around the 40km mark, creating a gap of two minutes, 15 seconds.
“But we had a few guys on the front rolling through and we gradually brought them back at the foot of Sterkfontein,” he added.
“At that stage, Marc Pritzen [the current SA U23 road champion] attacked over the top and five of us – I, Marc, Kent Main, Travis Barrett and Chris Jooste – got away from the bunch.
“Marc then attacked again and I managed to stay with him as we got a gap on the other three.
“It was a difficult sprint up Krugersdorp hill because it’s a new one after they flipped the route, but luckily the timing was on my side and I managed to edge home on the line.”
Faced with a new route, which race organisers ASG Events changed to improve the safety aspect of the event, Oosthuizen said he felt it had been a good challenge.
“This route is a different ball-game because going through the Cradle [Cradle of Humankind] it is quite hilly and you have to consider your options.
“You don’t want to miss a big break in the start, but you also don’t want to spend all your pennies and not be able to contend when it comes to the climbs.
“It definitely provides a different perspective and makes for positive racing because you can’t just sit in the bunch and wait for the sprint – you have to race it.”
He added that his victory would not have been possible without the support of his team.
“If you don’t have a team ethic in this sport you won’t make it, so a big shout-out to my teammates for this win.
“We missed the breakaway about 40km into the race, but even the junior riders came forward to help and it was great to win for them.”
Oosthuizen said they would now turn their attention to the Takealot Tour of Good Hope in the Cape Winelands from March 4 to 8 before tackling the Cape Town Cycle Tour on March 10.
On a good day for the Oosthuizens, Jason’s father, Thys, won the 40-49 category in a time of 2:37:41.
In the women’s race, Demacon MaxWax claimed their first podium spot of the year when Carla Oberholzer successfully defended her title, holding off Johanna van de Winkel (Cycle Nation) in a sprint finish.
She crossed the line in 2:57:16, with Van de Winkel five seconds off the pace. Oberholzer’s teammate Kim le Court completed the podium in 2:57:51.
After a breakaway by Le Court at the Sterkfontein climb, Oberholzer said she and Van de Winkel were able to close the gap before going head-to-head in the final stretch.
“Jo was really strong today and almost caught me unawares on the last uphill sprint,” she said.
“I had to work extremely hard to come over to her for the win, but in the end it was a phenomenal team effort that got me home.
“After going up Sterkies [Sterkfontein] you think there is time to recover, but there isn’t really because basically you have to pedal all the way and the uphill finish makes for interesting racing.
“I love this route, which I prefer to the old one as it makes it a race which offers something for the climbers.”
After her team dominated women’s cycling in South Africa last year, Oberholzer said it was “amazing to win a race again”.
“We have not had the best start to the year and the morale was a little bit low, but we always said we just need to keep our heads up.
“Our goal will always be to win whenever we compete and that goal has not changed. Today we rallied as a team and it’s good to be back on the top podium spot.”
1 Jason Oosthuizen 2:29:09
2 Marc Pritzen 2:29:09
3 Travis Barrett 2:29:23
4 Kent Main 2:29:24
5 Chris Jooste 2:29:31
1 Travis Stedman 2:29:51
2 Tiano da Silva 2:30:28
3 Dian Fritz 2:30:54
Veteran men (30-39)
1 Adolph Krige 2:38:31
2 Richard Baxter 2:38:31
3 Werner Roux 2:38:33
Veteran men (40-49)
1 Thys Oosthuizen 2:37:41
2 David Labuschagne 2:37:42
3 Johan van Rooyen 2:38:35
Veteran men (50-59)
1 Samuel de Swardt 2:48:21
2 Graeme Cronje 2:48:26
3 Grant de Ridder 2:48:27
1 Carla Oberholzer 2:57:16
2 Joanna van de Winkel 2:57:21
3 Kim le Court 2:57:51
4 Sanet Coetzee 2:58:31
5 Kelsey van Schoor 2:58:32
Caption: Jason Oosthuizen (left) pips Marc Pritzen in the final dash for the line to win the Takealot Berge & Dale 108km cycle road race for the first time in Krugersdorp on the West Rand today. Photo: Jetline Action Photography