Minolta Konicas Jacques Fullard came out on top in a bunch finish to claim the Maluti Challenge in Bethlehem at the weekend.
Fullard took the win from junior rider Jaco Venter (ACI/Barloworld Jnr) with the ever consistent Malcolm Lange(Microsoft) in 3rd.
The race started in overcast conditions with Konica Minolta, Microsoft, Thabiso, Tuks/Aerosud and the ACI/Barloworld juniors all rolling out towards the hard Eastern Freestate Maluti mountains.
Konica Minolta started the action with Leon Nel putting in the first of many attacks.
Attack upon counter attack followed and finally a group consisting of Fullard (Konica Minolta), Neil McDonald (Microsoft), Morne Bester (Thabiso) and Juan van Heerden(Tuks) got away.
Van Heerden got dropped on the first hill and this put Tuks on the back foot to chase from behind. At 40km ACI/Barloworld and Konica Minolta started attacking with a clear plan to bolster the front group with some of their riders.
Upon reaching the feared Surrender hill, John Lee Augustyn (Konica Minolta) and Jaco Venter (ACI/Barloworld) sped off away from the chasing group. Augustyn dropped Venter which in turn led Jacques Janse van Rensburg (ACI/Barloworld) to attack from behind to try and bridge the gap.
James Perry (Konica Minolta) would have none of this and shadowed the youngster all the way. Over the top Fullard took the King of the Mountains and then sat up waiting for Augustyn to join up.
Upon reaching the front group the Konica Minolta tried to attack the group. Augustyn got away at the climb past Clarens also taking the King of the Mountains prime.
The bunch regrouped after Augustyn was chased down by a combined effort from Microsoft, Thabiso and ACI/Barloworld. After numerous counter-attacks Augustyn got away again with Reinhard du Plessis (Microsoft), only to be caught again about 5km from the finish, which set proceedings up for a bunch gallop.
1st- Jacques Fullard (Konica Minolta)
2nd- Jaco Venter (ACI/Barloworld Jnr)
3rd- Malcolm Lange (Microsoft)
4th- Johann Rabie (ACI/Barloworld Jnr)
5th- Herman Fouche (ACI/Barloworld Jnr)
6th- George Schoonraad (Konica Minolta)
7th- Jacques Janse van Rensburg (ACI/Barloworld Jnr)
8th- Morne Bester (Thabiso)
9th- James Perry (Konica Minolta)