The Team Bonitas rider clocked a winning time of 02 hours 20 minutes 08 seconds and was followed home by Eritrean star Jani Tewelde (MTN Qhubeka), with his Team Bonitas teammates HB Kruger and Jason Bakke claiming third and fourth places respectively and Sean-Nick Bester (Westvaal BMC) rounding out the top five.
It’s the first time 25-year-old Rabie has won one of the country’s three big ‘Classics’ and it confirms his development into a true allrounder, following his 2012 successes in stage races and individual time trials.
Johann Rabie claimed his first win in the country's oldest road cycling 'Classic' the Durban Amashova Classic, on Sunday.
Photo credit: Dominic Barndardt
But Sunday’s win wasn’t only a matter of perfect timing for Rabie; it required a large dollop of tact as Team Bonitas only had three riders in the 18-rider breakaway group whereas archrival outfit, MTN Qhubeka, had six.
“We had to ride smart – chase down moves that needed chasing down, leave others that didn’t seem promising and let the other teams do their share of the work too. With six riders in the break, MTN Qhubeka ended up doing a lot of the controlling which put them under more pressure than us.
“I told Jason (Bakke) and HB (Kruger) that I was feeling good and was confident I could challenge for the win from this group. So they committed themselves completely to me and still both ended up in the top four. A good day for our team today,” smiled Rabie.
The race started with the usual long ascent of Fox Hill out of the city of Pietermaritzburg. With a fairly sedate early pace, a move went clear just before the first King of the Mountain prime comprising six riders.
Unhappy with the composition of that break and no doubt warmed up after the ascent, the peloton became restless and an increase in pace saw the break reeled in, followed immediately by a counter attack as 10 riders went clear with 22km completed.
By Camperdown (27km) the lead group had swelled to 18, comprising riders from all of the major teams, which saw a content peloton tap off and the lead grow rapidly, reaching more than eight minutes by the finish.
“We tried to thin the group out a bit up the Inchanga climb (46km) by pushing the pace, but it’s wasn’t steep enough, nor long enough and the bunch stayed together over the top,” explained Rabie.
Dylan Girdlestone (Westvaal BMC) made the most of the twisty descents through Hillcrest, Kloof and Pinetown to escape on his own for 15km. But with 10km remaining his courageous effort was extinguished by a bristling MTN Qhubeka-led pack readying for the final drop into Durban.
“There were plenty of attacks and counter-attacks in the last 10km. It was a very aggressive, positive race with such a variety of teams in the front group,” said Rabie. “Jason and HB were chasing down moves to try and keep it together for a sprint as were the MTN Qhubeka riders, who seemed to working for Jani (Tewelde).
In the final few hundred metres, Kruger integrated himself into the MTN Qhubeka leadout train, while Bakke created a leadout wheel for Rabie.
“The MTN guys seemed to go a bit too soon. We’d checked out the finish properly before the race and I knew that I needed to start my sprint later if I was going to last to the line. It worked out perfectly. We timed it just right.”
In the women’s race Robyn de Groot (Momentum Toyota) claimed the coveted title. Marissa Stander and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Momentum Toyota) were second and third respectively.
Amashova Durban Classic 2012
1 Johann Rabie (Team Bonitas) 02hr 20min 08sec
2 Jani Tewelde (MTN Qhubeka)
3 HB Kruger (Team Bonitas)
4 Jason Bakke (Team Bonitas)
5 Sean-Nick Bester (Westvaal BMC) all same time
1 Robyn de Groot (Momentum Toyota) 02:53:00
2 Marissa Stander
3 Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Momentum Toyota)
4 Lise Oliver (MTN Qhubeka)
5 Lynette Burger (Toyota CSA Academy) all same time
For full results, visit www.racetec.co.za