nco Kachelhoffer gave Bonitas, his team’s new title sponsor, the perfect entry into professional road cycling when he won the first major race of 2011, the Pick n Pay Fast One in Meyerton, south of Johannesburg on Sunday.
Kachelhoffer, a 25-year-old eighth-year professional from Bloemfontein, outsprinted two breakaway companions to clock a time of two hours, 15 minutes and 49 seconds for the 106km race, which took place in sunny, clear and slightly breezy conditions. Second place went to Johann van Zyl (Toyota Supercycling Academy) with Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Burgos) rounding out the top three.
With over 3000 participants, the Fast One is one of South Africa’s most popular road cycling events. The 2011 edition of the race also marked the introduction of Cycling South Africa’s new racing structure, grouping riders in start batches according to ability and not age.
The Elite and Under-23 men now race in Category 1, which saw a large 120-strong field on the start line. A fast start was punctuated by constant attacks off the front during the first hour of racing. Shortly after 45km, four riders made a move up the road, Songezo Jim (Bonitas), Kachelhoffer, Van Zyl and Janse van Rensburg.
Just after 50km Jim dropped back to the main pack leaving the three riders out front. They had a lead of 30 seconds and worked smoothly together to gradually increase that to 58 seconds with 91km covered. The large chasing peloton, led mostly by Team Tasol–GT, began to show signs of desperation, but the pursuit lacked organisation and the lead increased to 65 seconds with 5km remaining.
The main pack rapidly began to close in the finale though as the leading trio began to lose their pace in preparation for a game of finishing-straight bluff, started by Van Zyl, the 2010 South African Under-23 champion, who, with 1km to go, attacked his more experienced breakaway companions. Janse van Rensburg left it to Kachelhoffer to respond and he did so with interest, dropping Janse van Rensburg almost immediately and catching and passing a tiring Van Zyl with just 100m to go.
“It feels so great to win today, more for Team Bonitas than myself,” said Kachelhoffer afterwards. “We’ve got a lot of new faces on the team and I think people doubted we would be able to maintain our ability to win as we have done for the past two years as Team Medscheme. Today, we showed that we’re undoubtedly a team that can win!”
Kachelhoffer was gracious in his description of his breakaway companions:
“I was riding with two very strong guys. I actually started to take some strain towards the end. But I knew how important a win was for our team and that kept me motivated to give a little more. I’m glad I did because it worked out well in the end.”
The victory was a good confidence booster for Team Bonitas ahead of the 2011 South African road championships, which will take place this week in Port Elizabeth.
“South African champs will be a different kind of race – longer with more climbing and at sea level – but a win before a major championship is always good for morale,” said Kachelhoffer.
Pick n Pay Fast One 2011 – Meyerton, Gauteng, 106km
Leading results, Elite & Under-23 men:
1 Hanco Kachelhoffer (Bonitas) 02hrs15min49sec
2 Johann van Zyl (Toyota Supercycling Academy) same time
3 Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Burgos) 02:15:51
4 Malcolm Lange (Bonitas) 02:15:52
5 Jacques Fullard (Black Rock) same time