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)