Muhanga- MTN Qhubeka’s Johann Van Zyl started off strongly the 4th stage the 2013 Tour of Rwanda from the Northern Province town of Musanze and finish with the same energy in Muhanga, Southern Province.
van Zyl brushed off competition from fellow South African Girdlestone Dylan of Team SA to cross the finish line before yet another record crowd as the race enters the Southern part of Rwanda.
Dylan’s consistent performance however ensured that he claims the yellow jersey from yet another South African rider Louis Meintjes who had it after winning the 3rd stage.
The Team Qhubeka rider, van Zyl took on the 128km with intent, leading for a bigger part of the day to claim his first individual win.
Despite breaking away early, van Zyl attributed his win to the team which is now left with four riders after Jay Robert Thomson abandoned the tour due to illness.
“It was a long day at the front and I had to work hard for it and I’m thankful to the team who gave me the opportunity to attack. I was really happy to pull it off in the end,” van Zyl said.
Several riders including Hichem Chabane from Algeria and Aron Debretsion (AS.BE.CO) had threatened to cut into van Zyl’s two minute lead but it was Girdlestone to come close to upstaging him with about 30km remaining.
Van Zyl composed himself with about 5km to the end of the stage and charged ahead, leaving a startled Girdlestone to follow in his marks to claim second place.
Girdlestone second place finish made him gain 2’ 26”on his time, taking the yellow from Louis Meintjes. Meintjes now trails Girdlestone in second on the overall standings by 2:10.
“It’s good to get the win but I am sad for Louis,” van Zyl said of Meintjes who is his best friend.
The stage which goes through Nyabihu and Ngororero districts has the longest descent that stretches over 21km.
Rwanda’s Emile Bintunimana came 4 while Bonaventure Uwizeyimana finished in the 10th position. The president of the Rwanda Cycling Federation Aimable Bayingana said he is hopeful that the Rwandan riders will do better in the next stages.
“We still think that the boys still stand a chance on the next stages. Up to now they have been performing well alongside their experienced counterparts,” said Bayingana.
Friday’s stage from Muhanga to Nyamagabe is 102.4 kilometres and finishes on a category one climb.
How the finished
- VAN ZYL Johann Team MTN Qhubeka 3:20:08
- GIRDLESTONE Dylan South Africa 3:20:12
- DEBRABANDERE Thomas Avia Crabbe Team 3:22: 38
- BINTUNIMANA Emile Team Rwanda Akagera 3:22: 38