TEAM ABANTU’S James Perry claimed top honours at the Wilro Lions Cycle Challenge finishing just ahead of team mate & 2014 Argus Cycle Tour winner Nolan Hoffman.
A small contingent of Pro Elite riders took to the line at the Tarlton International Raceway for the 114km race. Team Abantu was the only team with a full strength lineup. With the Mzansi Tour starting on Tuesday, it seemed most local SA teams took the decision to rest their riders.
Team Abantu, however used the event as an opportunity to get their racing legs back into action before the UCI 2.2 Mzansi Tour kicks off on Tuesday, having not raced in over a month since the Argus Cycle Tour. A predominantly flat and fast route saw a decisive group of 9 riders escape in the first 20km of the race. Team Abantu was well represented with Perry & Hoffman being joined by youngsters Kellan Gouveris and Oupa Maluleke.
The nine man group worked well together and managed to build up a lead of just over 3min. Through Magallies the attacks began in the chasing bunch and a group of 10 riders went clear in pursuit of the 9-man lead bunch. With the time gap beginning to fall, the four Abantu riders began to attack their breakaway companions causing the lead group to splinter.
With 20km to go the elastic snapped and Hoffman went off solo. The evergreen Perry continued to apply the pressure and managed to drag himself back up to Hoffman in the dying kilometres and went on to take a well earned victory.
“Its good to get a win leading into a tour. Last year we won the Emperors race 3 days before the Mzansi Tour and went on to have a good tour. Lets hope we can replicate that. It was a solid team effort from the boys who used their numerical advantage to the max and pulled off a good 1-2. Oupa also impressed me finishing 4th and was pretty active in the front the whole day, so in all a good day” said Dean Edwards, team principal.