Picture: 123RF/STEFANSCHURR
Picture: 123RF/STEFANSCHURR

Marc Pritzen was speechless and Carla Oberholzer full of words of praise after the two won the Discovery 947 Ride Joburg at the Riversands Commercial Park on Sunday.

Pritzen, the 20-year-old who began cycling seriously just three years ago, and Oberholzer, took their wins thanks to long, strong sprints on the downhill finish. Oberholzer (Team Demacon) defended the title she took in 2018, but for Pritzen (Team Officeguru) the race was the crown jewel in a career that looks to have some distance to run.

Pritzen’s teammate Alex Worsdale was second and David Maree (Team Enza) third.

“I’m speechless, to be honest,” said Pritzen. “I have to thank the team for believing in me and always backing me. This is not my victory, this is Officeguru’s victory. Pritzen, the SA under-23 champion, and 14 others broke away from the pack early in the race.

They would never be caught and managed to open the gap to close on 3min before Daryl Impey, who became the second South African to win an individual stage in the Tour de France in 2019, put the hammer down in the chasing pack.

The gap did came down to a shade under a minute for a spell, but with no teammates and a reluctance on the part of others to join in the chase, Impey, the winner of this event in 2018, was up against it.

“At one stage I didn’t think our break would stay away,” said Pritzen. “The gap started coming down quite quickly, but then we realised that without us really pushing hard, the gap stayed the same and even increased a little. I think there was some hesitation in the group behind us.

“We knew that Nolan [Hoffman, a former winner of the race] wanted to have a bunch sprint, even though his Enza teammate, David, was in the lead group with us. We knew we had to keep pressure on so we could soften the legs of the others.

“We dominated from the beginning. There was never really a plan going into the finish. We had Travis [Barrett], Alex and myself there. I tried a couple of things going up to Kyalami and then on Kyalami, which didn’t really work. Towards the end, Alex asked me how I felt. I told him I was keen to sprint and he said he would sacrifice himself for me,” said Pritzen, who opened up the sprint from 50m out.

Oberholzer also benefited from a strong break in the women’s race to set up a sprint against Joanna van der Winkel (Cycle Nation), who was second, and Parys Edwards (Karan Beef), who took third.

“We had superb team work out there today. Heidi Dalton went in the early break. Then she dropped back to the bunch. We had to play a bit of a waiting game because Cycle Nation were in the front,” said Oberholzer.

“We managed to cross over on Jan Smuts and establish the break. I had Kim le Court with me and she rode absolutely superbly. Coming into the sprint it was myself, Jo and Parys, and I was confident I could take them. I came and looked at the finish on Saturday, and I knew what I had to do. I’m happy it all worked out.”