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!
1st Kevin Evans - MTN
2nd Johann Rabie - Neotel
3rd Arran Brown - Medscheme
4th Dennis van Niekerk - Konica Minolta
5th Roger Beuchat - Neotel