Something drastic will have to go wrong over the next three stages to prevent Hunter from winning the Mzansi Tour overall.
According to provisional results Hunter’s winning time for the stage from Lydenburg to Middelburg (189km) was 5 hours 5 minutes and 25 seconds David Maree (Tasol-GT) was second 2seconds behind and third place went to Kristian House (Rapha Condor JLT) 51 seconds behind Hunter.
Hunter has an overall lead of 5 minutes 50 seconds on Julien Antomarchi (La Pomme Marseille)
The way in which Hunter won the Mzansi Tour second stage is the stuff legends are made off true to the Hunter form. His approach to cycling is always you with me or against me and if you are against me you might regret it.
Early into the stage a group of riders - Maree, Shaun Ward (NuWater), Dan Craven (Rapha Condor JLT), Neil MacDonald (FedGroup Itec) managed to go clear in a break. Nobody in the peloton was prepared to do all the work to chase them and the gap opened up quickly. The gap on the main bunch quickly grew to well over five minutes.
Hunter who started the stage as one of five riders who had realistic chance to win overall realized the danger should the breakaway succeed. He had a brief discussion with Julien Antomarchi from La Pomme Marseille who won the first stage and was leading overall. The French rider did not really want to commit to work with Hunter to limit their losses.
Hunter made the decision to take matters in his own hands and went off on his own. Fortunato Baliani from Nippo-De Rosa (JPN) who was third in stage one made a halfhearted effort to keep up, but soon dropped back.
The South African powered across to the leaders on his own in impressive style catching up with the leaders about 25km from the finish in Middelburg. With about 10km to go Hunter accelerated again. Only Maree could keep up. According toMaree he informed Hunter that his legs were blown about three kilometres from the finish.
A modest Hunter said afterwards that his race plan was to try and get away in a break with six other riders so as to see if he could increase his overall lead, but things did not work out as planned.
“I had to make the decision to go on my own. I have to admit that I am happy with the way things played out.”
Maree said after his team missed out big time during the first stage he had no choice but to attack. “I basically launched an attack the moment we were out of the neutral zone and there was no way I was ever go to relent.
“Being beaten by Robert in the end is no shame. He is after all one of the best riders in the world.”
Maree’s aggressive riding was not in vain. He is the leader in the king of the mountain competition.