Monday, October 26, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Telkom Satellite Challenge MTB

So Sunday it was back to the Telkom Satellite station for the mountain bike race of the event. I was not expecting too much from the event, and was surprised to see the number of riders who turned out to support the event. And once the event got underway, it was easy to see why it’s so popular! Fantastic organization, amazing routes, good markings and great weather!
The route left the satellite station and the riders headed off for two laps in the 60km distance, all in a private nature reserve. Soon we were racing amongst zebra, giraffe, antelope, wildebeest and even a cobra!
A small group had formed after the first climb, Phillip Buys (Garmin), setting the pace, Andrew Mclean and Jock Green (Toyota Cyclelab), Adrien Niyonshuti and myself (MTN/Energade).
Not only was Phillip setting the pace on the climbs, but on the technical descends and single track sections I had my work cut out for me following him. The other guys would be dropped here, but would always fight their way back. This however would slowly tire the guys out, and as we started our second lap, it had taken its toll and only Adrien and I were left with Phillip.
The rocky and rough route meant you had to concentrate the whole time and fortunately none of us had any punctures or mechanical problems. The final 15km was taking its toll on me, plus my effort from the previous day, and I only had enough legs to follow, but couldn’t try ride away from Phillip. However on the final climb, Phillip attacked and I was on the rivet as I dug deep to stay on his wheel. Adrien had been ridden off here, but he managed to keep his tempo steady and rode back to us in the final 6km.
I had already made my mind up that I would have to gamble it on the sprint.
As we got onto the tar road, with about 400m to the finish, I was on Phillips wheel and was going to leave the sprint for as late as possible. All of a sudden Phillip opened it up and got two bike lengths on me and the sprint had begun. I managed to just get into his slip, and he may have misjudged it by literally half a meter as I was only just able to put a wheel in front of him on the line!
So close for Phillip, but the win gave me a rare satellite double victory and a really great way to end my season as I head into a 4 week break now! Adrien rode superbly well after also having a hard road race the day before to take third place, whilst Jock Green took 4th, and Andrew Mclean 5th. Justice Makhale managed 6th so great to see him already progressing in the team already.
Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade)
2nd Phillip Buys (Garmin)
3rd Adrien Niyonshuti)
4th Jock Green (Toyota Cyclelab)
5th Andrew Mclean (Toyota Cyclelab)
6th Justice Makhale (MTN/Energade)

Telkom Satellite Challenge

The next race in the Alphapharm Series took place at the Telkom Satellite station and is a race which for a change suits the pure climbers, provided you can stay away to the finish. The classic route does a big lap around the Hartebeespoort Dam, then heads up the Hekpoort climb, and finishes about 10km further up at the Telkom Satellite station.
The team had taken the time to recce the route properly the previous few days, and we had a definite plan going into the race. Problem with plans is they sometime change and have to adapt as the race unfolds.
The start was really fast, making for some record times for the race. The bunch stayed together for most of the first half, despite some riders trying to get a gap, knowing that Hekpoort would be a decisive part in the race. Eventually around the dam there was a break of escapees that got away, containing Cristoff van Heerden (MTN/Energade), Neil Mcdonald (Medscheme), Jeremy Martens (House of paint), Nolan Hofman (Neotel) and a Minolta rider. The gap was hovering around the 25second mark until a big crash took out most of the bunch!
I was fortunate enough to be able to dodge the crash, but many others weren’t, including Ian Mcleod, who had broken his shoe and would need it to be taped together. Juan van Heerden had to have three wheel changes in the chaos and whilst all this was going on, the gap of the breakaway quickly went up to about 90seconds.
We decided we couldn’t let Jeremy Maartens get to Hekpoort in the break, and decided to put some riders on the front to chase. However we weren’t the only team who was not happy with the situation, Toyota/Supercycling and Medscheme all committed riders on the front to pull the break back.
Once we turned right and headed to the base of Hekpoort, the boys in yellow took control as planned and put the pressure onto the bunch, stringing the guys out already before we hit the actual climb. The breakaway was caught here and the guys were setting it up for Ian and myself perfectly as we went into the foot of the climb. It was Jeremy Martens who then launched a big attack at the bottom coming off our train. Jacque Janse van Rensburg (DCM) was next to go, and I used Waylon Woolcock (Medscheme) who was trying to get across to the two guys. Eventually I bridged the gap myself with Ian, as the guys had gone too early. Halfway up Ian attacked and Johan Rabie (Neotel) followed him. They had a good gap on the small group that was making there way up the climb. Just before the king of the mountain, I bridged the gap to the two riders. Hanco Kagelhofer managed to ride across too, and as he joined us, I put in another attack to see who had something left. Johan Rabie managed to come with me, but it was over for Hanco who couldn’t roll through with Ian, who then sat up allowing us to get a gap. Rabie and I worked well together and with 10km remaining, we had a 25second gap to work with. Mean time a sizable gap had formed that was now chasing us. Rabie and I continued to ride at a hard tempo and we still had 20seconds as we began the final drag before the dive down to the finish.
Thanks to the time spent training this part with the team, I knew to wait for as late as possible before trying my move. Literally with about 30meters before going over the top, I attacked with everything I had left and at first it looked like Rabie was holding onto my wheel, but as I continued, a bike length opened up and as I crested the top I had about 5 bike lengths. From there it was head down for the final fast 900m with only a tight left hand turn into the finish for me to claim my first road win for the season and a great result for our team MTN/Energade. Johan Rabie (Neotel) taking second and Arran Brown (Medscheme) finishing 3rd.
It was an amazing team effort and the boys in yellow were really happy with our performance. All that remained for me was to recover and rest up to tackle the mountain bike challenge the following day!
Provisional results:
Elite men
1st Kevin Evans - MTN
2nd Johann Rabie - Neotel
3rd Arran Brown - Medscheme
4th Dennis van Niekerk - Konica Minolta
5th Roger Beuchat - Neotel

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Raced the MTN Amashova last weekend in the rain. Check the pic, trust the mountainbiker not to be afraid of the line in the road!
Race went ok, despite not feeling well, especially the day before when I had to pull out of the mountain bike race, I managed to do my bit for the team. Christoff managed a third place for the team in a scary fast bunch sprint, whilst Ian came close in the final 2km to staying away.
This weekend I'll race my last two races for 2009 and the team, The Telkom Satelite Challenge, road race on Saturday, mountainbike race on Sunday. Then a few more days in Jozi, till the launch of the Cape-Epic route 2010, then home at last for the rest of the year. Think I might need to get back into my shop and do some real work!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ridemag Crater Cruise

Otherwise known as “The dirty dash for cash”, the Crater Cruise has always been a popular event in which riders from all disciplines come to compete for the biggest payout in mountain biking for the year. This year was no different and along with the usual offroad teams, Neotel, Medscheme and Konica all had riders there to compete for the overall title.
The race began with a 5km neutral zone, and once over the Vaal River, it was race on. The roadies like to go hard on the tar and the first hotspot comes before the tar turns to gravel. The first 30km is fairly straight forward, the corrugations were as bad as ever, and the early sections of jeep track helps to thin the big group out a bit. I was planning on saving all my energy for the end of the race, as I’ve learnt with experience in this race that it boils down to elimination. The road up to the King of the mountain is not actually much of a mountain but the speed up there was fast and the pace hard. I was feeling good and decided to have a small dig here. I rolled over the King in second position and when I saw the bunch splitting and in a single line, I rode a hard tempo all the way up the concrete track to hurt the bunch a little deeper. Strong winds on the day made the race even harder, and I could see guys were on the ropes already, and we hadn’t even got to the hard climb yet! I followed Garmin’s Phillip Buys up the steep rocky climb and once down the other side, the only other riders to have made it through this split were Marc Bass(Garmin), Rodger Beuchat(Neotel), Jacques Janse Van Rensburg(DCM), Phillip and myself. I told the guys to roll together as the same break worked the previous year, the gap too big for any other riders or groups to cross.
The only real confusement happened at the halfway mark, where Jacques had taken on bottles, contrary to the pre-race briefing. However after I spoke to the organizers the day before the race, feeding was permitted at the feed zones, but vehicles were not allowed on the route. I think the fact that he had a assistance from the motorbike and took bottles from it, that was following on the course would eventually lead to his disqualification. This was very disappointing as I don’t think it would have changed the result at the end, however these rules will need to be clarified prior to a pre-race briefing in future.
As the race drew on, it started to take its toll, Marc Bass was the first to be eliminated as I bridged a gap to Rodger who was looking good but would soon pay the price for his efforts earlier on. Once we were back onto the district roads, with about 20km to go, I put in a big tempo effort in the same place I have in the past. Only Jacques was able to get onto my wheel, the other two riders trying not to loose us. Once we started to roll through together, it was over for the other two guys though. As we turned under the tar road, I pushed another hard tempo effort and soon had a gap as I passed the final water point. Only 12km remained between myself and winning the race I’ve tried so hard to win in the past. The final 12km was obviously tough, the rough route combined with strong winds from the side and front, as well as an extra 2km at the end took its toll on everyone, including myself. I was going as hard as I could but was never sure if it would be enough, constantly checking over my shoulder for other riders. Only once I reached the bridge over the road, did I finally ease up and enjoy the victory that was a long time coming! Jacques came in a few minutes down in 2nd place, but his disqualification would mean that Phillip Buys(Garmin) would then get 2nd, Nic White(Medscheme) would get 3rd after just passing Rodger Beuchat(Neotel) who was riding on a flat wheel and fatigued legs would land up 4th. 5th place for the day would belong to two time event winner Ben Melt Swanepoel of Specialized.
What a way to end off my mountainbike season, with only two more road races left, I’ll be looking forward to taking some good time out before preparation starts again for the 2010 season with Team MTN/Energade.

Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 3hrs32
2nd Phillip Buys (Garmin) 3hrs38
3rd Nic White (Medscheme)
4th Rodger Beuchat (Neotel)
5th Ben Melt Swanepoel (Specialized)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

MTN Clarens Marathon, #6

The penultimate leg of the MTN National Ultra Marathon series took place over the weekend in the picturesque town of Clarens. The last time one of the series races was held here was in 2004, and then the race was tough. Now we were back there to race an ultra marathon, over 110km and no one expected it to be easy!
Most of the big teams were there, and being the second last event in the series, riders would still be racing for overall positions. Weather on the morning was cool and overcast, but with heavy afternoon showers the previous two days, the course would have its fair share of slippery sections.
The race started with a 2km neutral zone, and the guys settled into the race as everyone was expecting the course to take its toll later on. Also being up at over 1800m above sea-level, would also make the riding harder. The organizers had set out a true mountain bike marathon, not very far off what you might find in the European Alps! The longer distances went up to about 2000m, where we were racing on slick rock, which appears smooth from far away but is actually really rough and made the going tough on the hard tail. The front group of about 10 riders stayed together until this climb, and it was Garmin’s Phillip Buys, currently wearing the King of the mountain jersey who made good use of his technical skills on a very tricky climb, to get a gap on the group which was splitting into pieces. I was chasing hard, not wanting to give him too much of a gap before the hectic downhill section. Ben-Melt Swanepoel (Specialized) joined me near the top, and from there on we would stay together for the rest of the race.
At the bottom of the descent, Phillip had put 2minutes into Melt and I, with Marc Bass chasing us about another minute behind. Once the technical section was over, Melt and I worked together to start catching Phillip. It took us about 15km to get to him, and he stayed with until about 20km to go. I sensed him taking strain and forced the pace, Melt and I still sharing the work load.
With a uphill finish of about 300m, I gambled on saving my energy for a sprint, and fortunately for me, I had a little more left in the tank to get a gap on Melt in the final 300m, taking my third win in this years series, and securing my 5th consecutive overall marathon series win. This year was special too as MTN have been the title sponsor for the series and was the first year of the new ultra marathon distances. MTN/Energade team mate Adrien Niyonshuti rode really well to take forth place ahead of Francois Theron (Garmin). Buys held onto a well deserved 3rd position.
The next race will be in Hilton, the 50miler, and I have my doubts I’ll be racing there, but for sure I’ll be there to support my team and sponsors.
Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 4hrs13:15
2nd Ben-Melt Swanepoel (Specialized) 4hrs13:22
3rd Phillip Buys (Garmin) 4hrs20:22
4th Adrian Niyonshuti (MTN/Energade) 4hrs26:00
5th Francois Theron (Garmin) 4hrs28:23
Pics by Zoon Cronje