After the disappointment of missing out on victory in 2011, Team Bonitas is primed for success at the 2012 94.7 Cycle Challenge, which takes place in Johannesburg on Sunday.
With numerical superiority in the lead break at the 2011 event, Bonitas made a costly tactical error and lost out on the win and the chance of making it three wins in succession. The intention is obviously to make amends this year and the team has no shortage of talent to deliver a winning performance. With Johann Rabie’s victory at last month’s Durban Amashova, team confidence is at a high, always an important factor.
The relatively short distance of the race – 94.7km – combined with the undulating nature of the route (1150 metres of vertical ascent), and the fact that it is held at an altitude of 1600 metres above sea level, are all factors that play a role at the sharp end of the world’s second largest road cycling race.
With two sprinters in the squad – Tyler Day and Herman Fouche – the team will have two cards to play should the main contenders stay intact. Fouche has been more and more prominent in the finishing sprints over the past few weeks and is on his way to peak form for what he describes as one of his favourite races. But Day is the rider more suited to the course.
With 2011 winner Arran Brown in peak form – he won the recent MTN OFM Classic and Engen Classic, Durban – MTN Qhubeka will go into Sunday’s race carrying the pressure of supporting the race favourite and defending champion, but will have a strong team to back Brown’s bid for back-to-back wins. Only Team Bonitas owner, Malcolm Lange has achieved back-to-back wins in the race’s 15-year history (2000 and 2001).
Day was runner up to Brown at both the OFM Classic and the Engen Classic over the past fortnight and is showing excellent form compared to the same time last year according to team manager, Barry Austin.
“Arran and Tyler are similar in many respects and we feel that Tyler is our best option to challenge for the title on Sunday. He’s also fearless when there’s close contact sprinting and with the twisty finale of this race, that’s always a strong possibility,” said Austin.
“Tyler’s form is sharp and he just needs things to go his way with positioning and timing to get that first place he’s been so close to lately.”
As has happened occasionally in the past, most notably in 2010 (Nic White) and 2005 (Darren Lill), there is always the possibility of a solo breakaway succeeding, but it’s rare and the odds are stacked heavily in favour of a breakaway group or mass bunch finish.
With such significance placed on the event – it’s considered one of the country’s Big Three popular races along with Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour and Durban Amashova – each team will be out to end the year’s racing on a high note. Expect a fast-paced thriller.
The full Team Bonitas line-up for Sunday is: Tyler Day, Hanco Kachelhoffer, Jason Bakke, Luthando Kaka, Herman Fouche, Ian McLeod, Johann Rabie and HB Kruger.