Hunter wins Mzansi Tour

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Robert_Hunter2 AFP File picture of Robert Hunter.

Johannesburg – South African Robert Hunter won the Mzansi Tour on Sunday after the fifth and final stage, a 123km ride that started and finished at Montecasino, in Johannesburg.

Hunter's compatriot, Dylan Girdlestone, riding for the Westvaal BMC team, won the final stage, surging to the finish line unchallenged in two hours, 53 minutes, 38 seconds (2:53:38).

Hichen Chaabane (VCS) finished the shortest stage of the tour in second position, four seconds off the pace, while Team Bonitas rider Waylon Woolcock was third, a further nine seconds behind.

Hunter, leading the SA National Team, grabbed the Yellow Jersey on the second stage and never looked back, securing overall victory nearly six minutes clear of Frenchman Julien Antomarchi (La Pomme Marseille), who finished second overall, while Italian Fortunato Baliani (Nippo-De Rosa) took third place.

Thiele Kersten (Rad-Net) whizzed through the first hotspot, 29 kilometres into the final stage, leaving the chasing pack three seconds behind.

Soon after, a 10-man breakaway opened a lead of one minute, 45 seconds, and Jason Bakke was the first rider through the King of the Mountain (KOM) point at the Cradle of Humankind.

Richard Handley was forced to pull aside after 57km with a front-wheel puncture, but was soon back with the leading group.

They made their way through the tour’s last KOM point, with Richard Laizer the first to cross, and with only 50km remaining, the leaders began to up the pace, stretching the gap to three minutes.

With 20km to go, an attack came from Girdlestone and Chaabane as the chasing peloton tried to close down the advantage, but Girdlestone broke clear to win the stage comfortably.

Apart from his victory in the general classification, Hunter also won the points classification and the best African rider's division.

David Maree, riding for Tasol-GT, won the KOM crown, and JC Nel of the MTN Qhubeka Feeder team was the best young rider. – Sapa



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