Kristian House edged a step closer to overall victory in the Tour of South Africa today.
He finished today’s queen stage from Hermanus to Stellenbosch thirty one seconds down on stage winner Darren Lill, and will take a lead of two minutes and nine seconds into the race’s last stage tomorrow.
Tomorrow will see a relatively flat circuit race in Paarl, near Cape Town where, freak incidents notwithstanding, House is likely to wrap up the GC victory.
“I am delighted. The team rode superbly, they have done all week. This is a major international event,” Rapha-Condor-Sharp manager John Herety told CW.
“I am fairly confident that Kristian will keep his lead tomorrow. We’re not counting our chickens before they’ve hatched – it’s not like a criterium, it’s rolling – but it’s about one hundred kilometres long so we should be OK.”
An elite group of fifteen riders that included House and Jon Tiernan-Locke led the field coming onto the stage’s final climb. The pair were attacked leading up to the moutaintop finish, but managed to limit the damage.
Rapha riders Ben Greenwood and Zak Dempster had earlier upped the pace on the first category Franschoek Pass climb and whittled the field down.
Herety said that the stage went exactly to plan: “We took a gamble that the South African teams would be trying to get on the podium and get the King of the Mountain points. We knew we were going to get attacked but thought the South African teams would work against each other.”
The first fifteen kilometres saw an early breakaway but with the highest placed rider Neil McDonald over five minutes down on House, it was never going to be a serious threat.