The Garmin Rooiberg Eco Ride takes place in the Limpopo Province in the small bushveld town of Rooiberg. This was the second year of the event and it featured some significant changes to last years edition. Most notable changes were, this year it was an individual event as opposed to the paired race or team race of last year. Secondly, of the 73km we raced today, 60km of it was hard, loose, rocky, technical and unforgiving singletrack.
To ride 60km of singletrack on its own is tough, but rocky bushveld, was torturous! The pace was on from the beginning and team DCM and team Garmin, both being sponsors of the event would be out to pull off the win. I decided to just take it to all of them from the start, but also test my legs early on to see how they were as I haven’t raced in a couple weeks. I managed to get a good gap up the first climb, but soon thereafter we hit the “track” and slowly my gap was being eaten up. Max Knox was first to join me, Then Phillip Buys for awhile, and finally Mannie Heymans came across. The conditions suited him perfectly, real Namibian terrain. This was clearly evident as Marc Bass made his way across too. So the front group from about 20km in was the four of us. I was content to follow the wheels and lines of the other riders as they were quicker through the rough stuff.
When the rough stuff finally ended, with 13km left to race, and Max attacked really hard immediately. As the two Garmin riders couldn’t respond, I immediately jumped onto his wheel and pretty much sat there while he kept going at it. It always looked like it would come down to the sprint and once we hit the finishing field, I had a little more in the tank to take the win ahead of Max. Mannie managed to come in alone about 3minutes down.
So tomorrow is another day, and in this terrain, absolutely anything can still happen.
After the extremely tough first day, the race organizers promised todays stage would be an easier day, with fast gravel roads, jeep tracks and only 10km of singletrack. So today you could actually enjoy the course and the beauty of the bushveld. We even saw some of the wildlife, and had to stop for a herd of giraffe running out across the road, a truly awesome sight! Nonetheless, back to the racing, the stage started with the usual fast pace, a few riders out to make up for yesterdays stage. With David injured from his crash the previous day, our only team plan was I told Adrian to stick with me should I have a problem. He was really good and after the first climb, a select group had formed at the front, most significantly was Max Knox and Mannie Heymans who were contenders for the overall. In this group too, was Adrian. After about 25km I asked him to make sure he was eating and drinking, only to be told “I have no food”. Immediately I dug in my pockets and gave him half of my stash as we continued on. Halfway came and went quickly, and soon thereafter Mannie and I started taking turns to attack the rest of the group. The guys responded to all our efforts, and even Adrian had a bash or two. He must have looked like a threat as they didn’t let him get away either. Slowly the course took its toll on the equipment and tires especially, as guys started to drop due to punctures.
Mannie and I rode away with about 15km left and he took the stage just ahead of me, but after loosing 3minutes to me yesterday, had to settle for second place overall as I took out the win, making it two in a row for team MTN at the Garmin Rooiberg Eco Ride, having won the event the previous year too. Adrian put in a great effort to ride away from Phillip Buys (Garmin) in the final 5km and secure 3rd place for the stage. An incredible result for him showing his true potential. Perhaps I should just tell him to follow me more often!
Otherwise it was a great event enjoyed by all, even after the punishment of day 1. Special mention to the fantastic catering, excellent food always goes along way to put a smile on any face.
Overall Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade)
2nd Mannie Heymans (Garmin)
3rd Max Knox (DCM Chrome)