Having missed my “home” town event last year, I was eager to get stuck in this year, especially as it is one of favorite races on the circuit. Between Dave and I, we had won it over the previous two years and were keen to keep the title in the camp. However, competition would be tough this year and most of the big teams would have riders down for the race.
It was the usual fresh start, temperatures very low but clear skies would ensure near perfect conditions. The race follows the normal route, and very quickly the race splits up, if not on the Simola climb, then the steeper Gouna. This year was no different and after Gouna, the big start bunch was reduced to seven riders. Dave and myself for MTN/Energade, Burry Stander (Specialized), Jaco Venter (DCM), John-Lee Augustyn (Barloworld), Phillip Buys (Garmin) and Rene Goustra (GT). Unfortunately for Rene, his race ended at the start of “Petrus se Brand”, the fairly technical forest section in the middle of the race. I managed to put a hard effort in to win the “King of the mountain” competition, albeit perhaps to my detriment. The rest of us then dueled it out, with different riders taking hard turns on the front and keeping the pace very fast. The route was in great condition and being fairly dry, would make for some record fast times. John-Lee was the next rider to come off the bunch as he found running in his road shoes a little difficult, after having to dismount on a steep climb up a fire break. As we went into the final 15km of the race, Burry was setting a hard tempo, and I had a small go on one of the drags. We managed to shake Phillip off here, but unfortunately Dave was taking strain after a week on anti-biotics.
5km to go and Burry and I got a five second gap on Venter through the final technical descent. I told Burry to roll through with me because Venter would have a good sprint, and we managed to hold him off, although I committed a little harder I feel in the final 3km and ultimately paid the price for that. Around the final corner, I had the lead but Burry had that little bit extra in the tank to come around my outside and steal the win.
That would make it four times I’ve been beaten on the line in my home town race.
Otherwise it was some good race preparation for Dave and I before we depart for our assault on the Transalp Challenge in Europe.
Race reports might be few and far between over this period, however you can follow me on twitter if you want to keep up to speed.
1st Burry Stander
2nd Kevin Evans
3rd Jaco Venter
4th Phillip Buys
5th Dave George