The South African national road cycling team captured excelled in the Tour of Rwanda, which finished in Kigali on Sunday, with Darren Lill finishing in the leader's yellow jersey, Dylan Girdlestone placing second and the team taking the team title.
The event began in Kigali on 18 November with a prologue, followed by eight stages, taking in 876 kilometres in total.
For Lill, who was not feeling up to peak fitness prior to the Tour after recovering from a virus, the victory was a pleasant surprise.
"This was an unexpected win for me," said the 30-year-old from Cape Town. "I went as part of the team to help the younger guys, so to claim the overall victory has come as a surprise."
Assessing the challenge the Tour posed, he added: "It was a good tour, with challenging stages, and great terrain, which made for positive racing.
"There is fantastic talent in Africa, but I think my experience in international racing, and being a mentor to my younger teammates, gave our team the edge, especially when we cannot use race radios."
National team manager for the Tour of Rwanda Ian Goetham was very impressed with the team's performance on his first international outing with the squad. "We had very good days that were well planned, and we succeeded," he commented.
"The team camaraderie was very high, and they all understood the goals of the tour. From stage one, the initial plan was to get the yellow jersey and win the tour.
'Brilliant team effort'
"It was a brilliant team effort, with each one of the six riders contributing to the team's success. An overall victory for Darren and a second place for Dylan is an excellent accomplishment.
Goethem piad tribute to all the members of the team, saying: "David (Maree) sacrificed a lot to work in front, and Avery (Arendse) and Reynard (Butler), both new to international racing, contributed a lot for us to keep the yellow jersey.
"Shaun (Ward) kicked off the tour with a stage in the yellow jersey [after his combined efforts of the Prologue and stage one, with Girdlestone only seven seconds behind in the GC at that point]. Darren was an excellent team leader."
Besides holding the top two positions in the top 10 of the final general classification, South Africa also won the team competition.
"Considering that this team spends most of the year representing other teams within the country, they worked very well together as a unit. The quickest times of the top three riders in each stage resulted in a team win for us as well," Goethem said.
Cycling South Africa's road cycling director Hendrik Wagener was very pleased with the results. "We always hope for a win when we send a team to an international event.
"To have a first and second place in the final overall general classification is a great achievement, and gives us a great base to build on in the early stages of our aim to take part in more African events, and of course, some valuable UCI points."
TOP 10 GENERAL CLASSIFICATION
Darren Lill (RSA) 22h43'41"
Dylan Girdlestone (RSA) 22h45'28"
John Njoroge Muya (Ken) 22h45'40"
Getachew Atsbha (Eth) 22h45'48"
Aron Debretsion (Eri) 22h46'40"
Kudus Merhawi (Eri) 22h49'58"
Julien Liponne (Rein. Br. Fra) 22h53'01"
Alem Abebe (Eth) 22h53'34"
Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) 22h54'14"
Solomon Habte (Eri) 22h54'39"
Team Bonitas' star Darren Lill took overall victory and led South Africa to the team title in the 2012 Tour fo Rwanda (Photo: Team Bonitas)