This 146km stage from Witbank to Mamelodi will be the flattest of the tour. The riders will only have to climb 1307m during the entire stage. Whilst there might be no hills to speak of, a sudden change direction could spell danger for the riders in windy conditions.
According to the weather forecast for Friday (19 April), it seems like ‘Mother Nature’ is planning to have a hand in the outcome of the race. The maximum temperature for Cullinan will be 17 degrees and in Pretoria it could be even colder.
To make matters even worse, there is also a possibility of rain. If it should rain, it will give the European riders an edge, because they are certainly more used to racing in cold and rainy conditions. Bad weather conditions could cause the local riders’ bodies to ‘shut down’, which will make it very difficult for them to be competitive.
The narrow roads in the old mining town of Cullinan will probably also favour the European riders who are used to racing on such technical routes.
Barry Austin, Mzansi’s Sporting Director, predicts that Cullinan could well prove to be a springboard for those who want to thwart the sprinting teams’ bid for victory in this stage.
Justin Jules La Pomme Marseille (FRA) will definitely be a rider to watch on Friday. The French rider is currently ranked 4th on the UCI’s European Tour rankings and he is also leading in the French Cup series.
Jules won a bunch sprint to win the opening race of the 2013 season of the UCI Europe Tour, the Grand Prix d'Ouverture La Marseillaise. His performance was in fact quite impressive. He managed to hold off the advances of Ag2r-La Mondiale's Samuel Dumoulin and the Argos-Shimano rider Thomas Damuseau to take the victory.
“Justin is not only a very fast finisher, he has decent climbing legs as well. He will certainly be able to contest for an overall win in the Mzansi if he should feel up to it,” commented Christopher Jennings, his South African teammate.
If the stage should finish in a bunch sprint, riders such as Herman Fouche (Bonitas), winner of the Argus, and Tyler Day Westvaal BMC (RSA), who came second in the Argus, cannot be ruled out. According to Austin, the sprint in Mamelodi will be tricky because the riders will have to race into a 90 degree corner a few hundred metres from the finish.
The first rider through the corner could well win the stage.
Riders the calibre of Johann Rabie Tasol GT (RSA) and Kristian House Rapha Condor JLT might also try to get away in a break in Cullinan.
The town of Cullinan was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, who discovered a rich diamond pipe in the region in 1902. Soon afterwards, on 25 June 1905, the famous Cullinan diamond, at 3,106 carats (621 g) the largest in the world, was discovered by Frederick Wells, surface manager of the Premier Diamond Mining Company.
It was bought by the former Transvaal Government and presented to King Edward VII.
The largest polished gem from the stone was named Cullinan I, or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.4 carats (106.1 g) it was the largest polished diamond in the world, until the discovery (in 1985) of the Golden Jubilee Diamond of 545.67 carats (109.13 g), also from the Premier Mine. Cullinan I is now mounted in the head of the Sceptre with the Cross.
The second largest gem is the Cullinan II, or the Lesser Star of Africa. At 317.4 carats (63.5 g), it is the fourth largest polished diamond in the world. Both gems are in the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Mamelodi, part of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality, is a township northeast of Pretoria.
The establishment was begun when 16 houses were built on the farm Vlakfontein in June 1953. At a later stage the name ‘Vlakfontein’ was changed to ‘Mamelodi’, which means ‘Mother of Melodies’. The name ‘Mamelodi’ was also given to President Paul Kruger, president of the ZAR, by the African people because of his ability to imitate the whistles of birds.