Kent Main executed his strategy to perfection to win the opening stage of the three-day Bestmed Jock Tour in Kaapsehoop, Mpumalanga, today.
The Dimension Data rider, who is racing without the support of a full team, set out determined to take advantage of the 27km individual time-trial that climbed all the way from Mbombela.
Main, who was aiming to finish in around 55 minutes, crossed the line in a provisional time of 54:57 to record a relatively comfortable victory over RoadCover's Brendon Davids, who won the one-day Jock Classic over the same roads earlier this season.
Davids' teammate, Mornay van Heerden, completed the podium in 55:45.
"I think you can say that's a pretty well-judged effort," said Main, who showed that he is developing into one of the country's top tour riders after winning the five-day Tour of Good Hope by one second in March.
"I'm ecstatic to take the win," he said, while admitting that he battled through the final 5km after having good rhythm early on.
Main said he overtook several riders who left the starting chute ahead of him, but had to dig deep as he entered the final stretch.
"Going into the last five kilometres it really started to hurt and it got even harder in the last three kilometres.
"When it flattened out a bit in the last one-and-a-half kilometres I just put my head down and grinded through."
The 21-year-old pro from Linden in Johannesburg will pull on the yellow jersey for tomorrow's 140km stage, which features 2 900m of climbing.
"The main objective now is to win the tour, but I think it's going to be really hard. I'm going to have to race really smart over the next two stages and not give too much away.
"Hopefully I won't lose any time tomorrow, but I don't think it will be a day where I will gain any time either."
Team Garmin's Yolandi du Toit, who has been focusing on mountain biking in recent years, made a victorious return to the road to finish ahead of Cycle4Cansa winner Carla Oberholzer and Zanri Rossouw.
The former 947 Cycle Challenge champion stopped the clock on 1:05:57 and credited her mountain biking experience for her impressive ride.
"In mountain biking all the races are kind of like an individual time-trial so I felt very comfortable with it all because of how similar it was. I just went out and rode like it was a mountain bike stage," she said.
"Coming from a road background, it will always have a special place in my heart so I really enjoyed today."
The 32-year-old from the neighbouring town of White River said she did not expect the victory and was very pleased with her effort.
Like Main, she is competing without the support of a team and admitted that she was unsure of what to expect tomorrow.
"I'm just going to try and follow wheels and see if I can hold on to first place."
The Bestmed Jock Tour, which is presented by Rudy Project, finishes on Sunday.
Stage 1 - 27km individual time-trial
1. Kent Main 54:57
2. Brendon Davids 55:17
3. Mornay van Heerden 55:45
4. Jayde Julius 55:55
5. Gregory de Vink 56:31
6. James Fourie 56:58
7. Myles van Musschenbroek 58:04
8. Ben Melt Swanepoel 58:14
9. Byron Munton 59:03
10. Luthando Kaka 59:06
1. Yolandi du Toit 1:05:57
2. Carla Oberholzer 1:07:27
3. Zanri Rossouw 1:11:58
4. Cherise Willeit 1:12:11
5. Dalene van der Leek 1:12:22
6. Elmari de Wet 1:15:28
7. Nadia Visser 1:15:40
8. Jodi Zulberg 1:16:20
9. Ronet Human 1:16:28
10. Heidi Dalton 1:16:48
Caption: DiData pro Kent Main executed his strategy to perfection to win the opening stage of the Bestmed Jock Tour between Mbombela and Kaapsehoop in Mpumalanga today. Photo: Memories4U