File picture of Robert Hunter.

Middleburg – South African rider Robert Hunter claimed victory in spectacular fashion on the second stage of the Mzansi Tour after a 189km ride from Lydenburg to Middelburg on Thursday.

Hunter prevailed in a sprint finish in five hours, five minutes, 25 seconds (5:05:25) in what was the longest stage of the International Cycling Union (UCI) graded tour.

David Maree of team Tasol GT, who was close behind Hunter, finished second, while Christian House of Ralpha Condor JLT finished third.

An early six-man breakaway saw Maree, House, Willem Smit (Team Bonitas), Shaun Ward (Team Nuwater), Dan Craven (WCCA Mixed Team) and Neil McDonald (Fedgroup ITEC) open a wide gap just 10 kilometres into the stage, leaving the peloton two minutes behind.

The gap increased to five minutes as the leaders headed towards the first King of the Mountain (KOM) point of the stage, after 33km, where Maree was the first to surge across and bag vital points.

Later in the stage, the leading pack rode up a nasty climb in Stofberg, after 133km, and headed towards the second KOM point, where Maree was again the first rider across. He was awarded the purple jersey for his efforts.

A late attack by Hunter, riding for the SA National Team, saw him close the gap on the leaders, and with only 10km to go he surged ahead to take the lead and win the stage.

Friday's third stage is the flattest of the tour, a 149km leg from Witbank to Mamelodi. – Sapa