Nico Bell triumphed in his own backyard when he took two of the three stages to sprint to victory in the Takealot Jock Classic road cycle race in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, today. Riding for NAD Pro, the 35-year-old from Nelspruit shaded Reynard Butler, defending champion David Maree and Travis Barrett in the race for the line to win the three-stage one-day event for the first time. After winning the first stage, he also took the final 62.3km stage in 1:33:25 for an overall time of 3:53:58. Maree, of Team Enza, was second in 3:53:58, followed by Travis Barrett (OfficeGuru Racing) in the same time. The three stages took cyclists on a 150km route from Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit through White River and Sabie before ending back at the stadium. Bell, who turned his focus from the road to mountain-biking in 2011, said the victory was especially sweet as he had health issues at the beginning of the year. His triumph suggested he was returning to his best form. "It was a very nice one to win because I had an operation at the beginning of the year as I had been struggling with my stomach," he said. "But I am back to regular training and I feel my form is coming back. I don't have any of the previous issues and it is nice just to ride the bike as hard as you can." After taking the first stage of 40.9km over Maree in a sprint finish, Bell said they conceded the second stage of 45.4km to Alex Worsdale. "Alex had lost some time on the first stage and he rode away from the beginning, so we just let him go. "Coming into the finish I just made sure I went full gas into the corner and was able to come in second, just ahead of David." Heading into the final stage, Bell said he felt Maree was the one to beat and although there was a breakaway near the end it was brought back and the stage developed into a sprint finish. "David, Travis and I were all on the same time and coming up to the stadium Travis attacked up the left. "Luckily I saw him …
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