Pick n Pay Hyper to Hyper “The fast one”
The Pick n Pay Hyper to Hyper, also known as “The Fast One”, took place in rather wet conditions! In fact more likely torrential rain from start to finish, which saw the race organizers having to neutralize certain sections of the race where the road was completely flooded and big dangerous potholes were hidden from our sight.
As the first big race of the season, many teams are eager to get going, and the conditions made an already nervous bunch, even twitchier as nobody really wanted to crash and risk injuries or bike damage at the very first race. Us especially when you look at the kind of equipment we using, a brand new Eddy Merckx EMX5 complete with Sram Red and the latest handbuilt FFWD wheels!
Needless to say we were always riding up front and out of trouble!
The rest of our MTN/Energade team were busy racing the Tour of Amissa Gabon, and so only four of us were left to fend off a few of the bigger teams on the day. Most noticeable on the day was DCM Chrome, who was very aggressive and definitely showed strength in numbers, whilst Medscheme and ourselves had our work cut out for us having to be active and follow all the moves. House of Paint also had a fairly big team and it was becoming evident that no moves would stick as the teams with numbers always had enough riders to bring the attacks back.
However for most of the fast race, it just became enough of a challenge to stay out of harms way, and get to the end in one piece. All the action really came in the last 2km, when there was a full sprint to enter the final sharp left hand turn before the sprinting up to the finish. It was going into this corner that finally set the end of the race up, and I was personally boxed in, having to negotiate the turn at about 10km/hr, whilst the front 5 or 6 riders were able to maintain a good speed then power out and onwards. Juan Van Heerden (MTN/Energade) was stranded about eighth wheel and had to commit to chasing the front guys. I managed to dig deep and ride around the bunch up to him, where I could shelter him for about 10seconds before my speed started to dwindle, and without enough speed, fresher riders who’d been less active the whole day used their fresh legs and speed to come around him for the line.
It was Jacques Fullard who finally got the victory, making a return to elite level racing.
Juan managed a credible 5th in the end, but it’s a long season with big goals and objectives ahead. We are heading in the right direction and no doubt will be back to full strength soon.
The racing looks to be on this year, and will be a definite level up on previous years, a great thing for road cycling in SA!
Big thanks to all the MTN management and staff for working well past overtime to get our bikes built and race ready, plus equipment, bike set ups, airport transfers and the list goes on and on, from of all the riders… Thank you!
Next week will see the full team at a training camp in Magaliesberg for a press launch, a dealer launch, photographs and team building camp, looking fast forward to it!
Next race, Barberton at the end of the month, till then, cheers.
1st Jacques Fullard (Hotspot Cycles) 2hrs 14min
2nd Tyler Day (EMG)
3rd Dusty Day (House of Paint)
4th Burry Stander (MrPrice/Specialised)
5th Juan Van Heerden (MTN/Energade)