02 Mar 2017 Cronje takes final league event
The final league race of the season saw a much depleted elite field line up at the Durbanville Racecourse for the Tour de PPA. The timing of the Herald this year meant that all the usual racing teams were up the coast and so a mixture of individuals, RandWater-Transnet and Private Client Holdings UCT rolled out towards Tiekiedraai and Vissershok at a fairly relaxed pace. Traditionally the climbs are not the make-or-break moments of this race but rather the wind, as every year a strong crosswind seems to blow on the roads leading to the R44.
The pace up Vissershok was tough but not over-the-top as the headwind made it easier for the majority of the bunch to sit in behind the strong climbers, and a large bunch headed out along Wellington Road. Sensing that the bunch was expecting PCH UCT to do the pace-setting on the front, we quickly decided to try get a break up the road to force others to sit in the wind.
Richard Simpson (PCH UCT) attacked over the Fisantekraal bridge but was soon closed down by Craig Boyes. Straight away Devin Shortt (LeadOut) had a dig off the front and Gregg Christy (PCH UCT) jumped onto his wheel and the two quickly opened a gap of about 30 seconds. This gap held for about 15 minutes until the pair decided that they were not going to stay away and sat up.
A much reduced bunch caught them quickly, as RandWater-Transnet had used the crosswinds to their advantage and had eliminated a host of riders. UCT PCH joined in on the action and soon enough a lead echelon had formed consisting of Craig Boyes, Alex Parsons, Devin Shortt, Chris Cronje (Giant), Leonardo van Onselen (Flandria), Martin Freyer, Matt How, Gregg Christy (all PCH UCT) and an unidentified RandWater-Transnet rider. They worked well together in the wind to open up a sizeable gap on the chase bunch, pushing speeds in excess of 45km/h.
Once turning off Philadelphia Road and onto Adderley, the lead group waited for the inevitable attacks on the rolling roads into Durbanville. Boyes, Shortt, Freyer, Cronje and Parsons managed to get away a few kilometres outside of the finish, with Parsons losing contact going into the final kilometre. The sprint was taken out by Chris Cronje, while Martin Freyer claimed second on the line but the finish was marred by a collision between Craig Boyes and Devin Shortt (3rd), with the former taking a hard fall. The remaining riders from the break rolled through over the next couple of minutes, while the splintered elite bunch came in drips and drabs.
The wind once again played a pivotal role in the outcome of this race, while the continued trend of aggressive and positive racing ensured that a mass bunch sprint finish has yet to materialise this year. However, in 10 days it is likely that the sprinters will have their time as they throw for the line outside Cape Point Stadium. Here’s hoping that a Western Cape based rider can upset our upcountry peers in South Africa’s biggest one day race. — Gregg Christie
TOUR DE PPA LEAGUE RESULTS
- Elites and u/23: 1st Chris Cronje (and KOM), 2nd Martin Freyer, 3rd Alex Parsons
- Junior men: 1st Devin Shortt, 2nd Daniyal Matthews, 3rd Abdul Muttalib Sauls
- Sub-vets: 1st Barend Viljoen, 2nd Paul Rorich, 3rd Ignus Oosthuizen
- Vets: 1st Nikolay Zatsarny, 2nd Pierre-Henri Olivier, 3rd Guy Le-Ray Cook
- Masters: 1st Douglas Burger, 2nd Sean Viljone, 3rd Dirk E Smit
- Senior scholars: 1st Matthew Fortuin, 2nd Brannon Miller, 3rd Stefan Marais
- Junior women: 1st Nadia van Niekerk, 2nd Ashleigh Parsons