Durban – Team Bonitas rider Johann Rabie won a sprint finish to clinch his first ever Amashova Durban Classic title on Sunday, while the women’s crown went to London 2012 Olympian Robyn de Groot.
Rabie, competing in the 106-kilometre Pietermaritzburg to Durban race for the sixth time in his career, posted a time of two hours, 20 minutes and nine seconds to edge out Jani Tewelde of MTN-Qhubeka.
The winning time was just 10 seconds slower than the record of 2:19.59 posted in 2009 by Arran Brown, who was bidding for a third title but faded away badly even before the halfway stage.
Instead it was Johannesburg-based Rabie that led home an 18-man breakaway group after taking control of the race as early as the 35 kilometre mark of the route.
The route follows the same one as the Comrades Marathon – the main difference being the finish at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, host of several World Cup football matches in 2010.
It was his third major title of the year after the Tour de Boland and the Tour de Free State, with his previous best finish at Amashove being sixth.
A record number of over 10,000 riders competed in the race, the province's biggest and one of the majors on the South African calendar.
Rabie’s team mates Hendrik Kruger and Jason Bakke, both critical to his victory, took third and fourth place respectively.
De Groot, one of three members of South Africa’s Olympic cycling team, came home in a time of 2:53.01.
She won a sprint finish from Marissa Stander and defending champion Ashleigh Moolman, her teammate and fellow Olympian.
De Groot was runners-up in 2010 and competed in London in August, where she was not classified after an over time limit (OTL), while Moolman ended 16th in the global showpiece. – Sapa