Stefan de Bod sealed his second overall title in the five-day Bestmed Tour of Good Hope in Paarl today.
The country’s premier road stage race, presented by Scicon and the City of Drakenstein, concluded alongside the Taal Monument that towers over the Cape Winelands town after 491km of racing.
De Bod’s teammate, the Italian Matteo Sobrero, won the 82km final stage to seal the points jersey for the DiData Continental team as well.
The 21-year-old South African, who took the yellow jersey after Tuesday’s individual time-trial, emerged from the pack on the steep final ascent and dragged Sobrero with him.
Their teammate and defending champion, Kent Main, took third spot on the stage to cement his runner-up position in the general classification ahead of ProTouch’s Gustav Basson.
A delighted De Bod said their strategy could hardly have worked out better.
“Our first priority was to take the yellow jersey. Then we wanted to get a few stage wins [they took four out of five] and, thirdly, we hoped to pick up another jersey.
“So everything went perfectly to plan and it was a great team effort from day one.”
De Bod, a specialist in racing against the clock, said the time-trial, which he won for the third year in a row, had been the key element in their triumph.
“The plan was for me to take the yellow jersey in the time-trial and from there we rode to protect it.
“We also had Kent in second place on GC, so, if something went wrong with me after the time-trial, we had a back-up plan.”
After winning as a callow teenager in 2016, De Bod said he had enjoyed this week much more.
“Two years ago I was really young but it was a good race to win before going to Europe.
“I battled a bit on that first trip to Europe, with visa issues and the communication barrier, but I have gained so much experience in the last two years.
“This time I was much more relaxed during the week and did not stress as much.”
He added that they had targeted the Tour of Good Hope at the start of the year.
“Bestmed and ASG put on a really good race and we see it as the biggest tour in South Africa,” said De Bod. “It’s an important one to win and it’s great to be able to support local racing.”
He will now tackle the Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday before joining his teammates on a flight to Italy in the evening to prepare for the European season. They will race on the continent until mid-October.
Overnight leader Ariane Luthi (Spur) completed a successful week by taking her fourth stage in a row to capture the women’s title after ending fourth last year.
The Swiss pro, who led by just over three minutes going into the final day, was followed home by Carmen Buchacher, who also took second overall.
After experiencing drama with a snapped gear cable yesterday, Luthi said she felt a flutter of concern today when Mauritian Aurelie Halbwachs and former national rider Zanele Tshoko broke away midway through the stage.
“They built up a lead of about three minutes and I was just hoping someone would attack to close the gap,” she said.
“Eventually we did close it to about one minute at the bottom of the final climb. I then put in an attack and only Carmen stayed with me.
“We caught Aurelie and I attacked once more just before the end to get the stage win.”
Having set her sights on the overall title, the multiple Cape Epic winner said she was very happy at how the race unfolded.
“There are a lot of unknowns in this race in terms of the strength of your competition, so you just have to test the waters on the first day.
“The time-trial win was very important for me because that gave a confidence boost.
“And then to win the queen stage up Du Toitskloof Pass showed me that I had the legs, compared to some of the others.”
ASG Events announced after the tour that the Emperors Palace Classic, which takes place in Johannesburg later this month, has been included in their stable of races that are presented under the Bestmed banner.
1 Stefan de Bod (DiData) 13:11:16
2 Kent Main (DiData) 13:12:41
3 Gustav Basson (ProTouch) 13:12:52
4 Matteo Sobrero (DiData) 13:13:10
5 HB Kruger (ProTouch) 13:14:40