Sunday, February 28, 2010

South African Marathon Championships, Sabie

Kevin Evans, Pics Zoon Cronje

Sabie was the host of the 7th South African Marathon Championships, and a testing 110km in the mountains of the Lowveld would always provide a true marathon course and some very hard racing. It would also form the third leg of the MTN Marathon series, but with the coveted green and gold jersey up for grabs, and the title of SA Marathon champion, it was sure to be a hard fought race, with all the countries top riders taking the start line.
The course was really made for climbers, with 2600m of climbing in the 110km, preparation was key. I’d chosen to ride my Volcan Pro 1 completely tuned with DT Swiss Carbon wheels and bits, getting the weight down to as close to 8kg’s as possible for all the climbing. No sooner had we rolled out of the start, the course would tilt upwards and we’d find ourselves climbing for the first 12km, up to nearly 1900m. I was adamant before the race that I would like to set the pace from the start, and after about 2kminto the climb I took control, Burry Stander (Specialized) keen to also get stuck in and help. By the top of the first climb, the race was completely in pieces as Burry and myself crested the top first, with MTN/Energade team mate Adrien Niyonshuti in third place. Unfortunately for him a cut tire would his race in one of the technical singletrack sections. Max Knox (DCM) pushed hard to ride back to us, but had used up valuable energy in doing so, and near the end of “ugly words climb”, he was off and Burry and myself riding well together to increase our lead with each pedal stroke. The next section to the technical zone at 75km was quite hectic as we had to negotiate our way past loads of fun riders doing the shorter distances. We entered the feed zone with a healthy gap, but neither of us were going to slow down as we started the last 45km loop. There were two really big climbs in this loop, the last one at about 30km to go to the finish. It was up this climb that Burry was setting the tempo and shifted out his big chainring, and I saw a chance and took it. I knew I had nothing to loose as I didn’t want to take him to the line, and I powered a big gear up the climb, forming a small gap on him. Once I realized I had ridden him off my wheel, I gained some much needed motivation to put everything into this move. With around 25km to go, I tried to remain conservative yet consistent. In fact the most problems came from the fun riders again as riders back logged the singletrack sections and were not so friendly when asked to give way.
I think at least with the lead motorbike in front of me trying to clear the track, it made it a little easier than for Burry who was chasing on his own. I kept a steady tempo, knowing that Burry would not let his title slip easily, and only once I turned into the finish straight did I realize I had just won the South African Champions and my fourth Marathon Championship!
Burry held onto 2nd place with no problems, and David George ( grabbed his first mountain bike nation medal to take third, after an early crash saw him break a cleat and have to fix that first before he could even begin the climb!
It was a fantastic feeling to retain my title especially on such a challenging course with the level of competition that was there.
However it was again far from a solo victory as there was so much hard work that went into the preparation of this race, lots of hours behind the scenes from mechanics, managers, coaches, soigneurs, sponsors, team riders and of course family! Everyone deserves a piece of this special jersey, so I’d like to say a big thank you!
Next race, unfortunately will be tomorrow at Carnival City, a road race and with three of our riders representing the National team in Malaysia, I’d need to help out there. Then it’s off to Sani2c with Alban for some Epic prep! Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 4hrs32
2nd Burry Stander (Specialized)
3rd David George (

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dischem Ride for Sight, Boksburg

Photo, Michelle Cound

The Dischem Ride for Sight took place just outside of Boksburg, and conditions on the day were perfect. The route runs along a popular “race road” up here which is well known by all cyclists, then heads around the back of Suikerbosrand reserve, and up through Heidelberg, back to Boksburg. It’s a fairly tough route and can be challenging when the winds come up and the big teams decide to turn the gas on. Also having raced 170km in the National Champs two days before would take the sting out the legs for sure.
The race was too fast for any moves to slip away, despite many attempts. The climbs on the course were just too short to ride away, and there were too many of the bigger teams with numbers to chase back most attacks.
We tried hard through Heidelberg to split the bunch, and although it split on the climb, it all came back together again with about 30km remaining. Team MTN took control of the race from here onwards as we drove the bunch back towards the finish. There were a few noticeable moves off the front in the final 10km, but the tempo we were setting was just too high for anyone to ride away.
Our yellow train was then overtaken by the House of Paint red train in the final 3km when they came through with more speed. But by this stage, our fastest and strongest sprinters were all fresh and jumped onto the back of their leadout, going into the final two corners in just the right position! It was then Christoff Van Heerden, turning over a 54tooth chainring who would lead Juan Van Heerden out in the sprint for the line, but the big gear with a slight tailwind, meant Juan could only get alongside Christoff, but not past him. 1st and 2nd on the day was an amazing result and a really good team effort again. It was also a special win for Christoff, in his home town and newly crowned SA Champion,
Next race, Saturday our mountain bike national marathon championships in Sabie! Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Christoff Van Heerden (MTN/Energade)
2nd Juan Van Heerden (MTN/Energade)
3rd Hanco Kachelhoffer (Medscheme)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

South African Road Race Championships, Klerksdorp

Kevin Evans, Ian Mcleod, pic Ronelle Rust

The South African Road Race Championships took place on a circuit course through the suburbs of Klerksdorp, and although it was a relatively flat circuit, 15laps of 11.2km, it was by no means at all easy!
With loads of corners and sharp turns going into small climbs, combined with the fact that we raced along with the u/23 riders in a bunch of about 180riders on narrow twisty roads, and had a start time of 13:00 in the midday heat, it was always going to be the strongest man on the day that would win! And strongest man it was, Christoff Van Heerden (MTN/Energade), proving he really deserved the national title after an incredible ride out front all day!
The start of the race was really hard and the first two laps were crucial in terms of your positioning in the bunch. You needed to stay alert near the sharp end of the race at all times. Then halfway through lap 2, the early break, usually doomed for disaster went off the front.
In this break was the ever consistent Nic White (Medscheme), Pieter Syfert (DCM), Christoff Van Heerden (MTN/Energade), Richard Baxter (House of Paint) and J Nel. So with all the big teams who had the numbers on the day, the break was allowed to run as the teams were confident.
At one stage the move had sneaked up to 3minutes, and with the bunch too big for MTN’s liking, we decided to turn on the gas for a lap. Ian and I set a mean tempo through the suburb and after a hard lap, the bunch was thinned out considerably as the pace and heat took it’s toll on most riders. In the process however we also brought the gap down to the lead group to about 2minutes, and with the chase group much smaller, we decided to let the other teams try and control the pace.
No one team really committed and by the time we hit the final two laps, one or two riders tried to put in some hard attacks, but were always marked by other riders. Eventually James Perry (EMG) managed to slip away by himself and cross the gap to the front riders which by this stage only consisted of Nic White and Christoff. Once James had bridged them, with about half a lap remaining, they attacked Christoff and actually had ridden him off. But he was not going down without a fight and managed to get back to them with only 2kilometers remaining!
Then it was easy picking for Christoff as the other two riders couldn’t match his speed and strength as he surged for the line and the National title!
I couldn’t think of a more deserving winner of the national title and it is great to have the national jersey back in out team for another year.
So after a very successful SA Championships, with gold medals in the elite road and time trial disciplines, we head back to continue with the rest of our season that lies ahead and many more big goals.
Next race, Sunday, The Ride for Sight, and then onto our mountain bike national championships in Sabie! Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Christoff Van Heerden (MTN/Energade) 4hrs18
2nd Nic White (Medscheme)
3rd James Perry (EMG)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

SA TT Champs

Kevin Evans, pic Ronelle Rust, Zoon Cronje

So my first national road title, and here’s a small story about it that know one knows.
I had originally put down the National Time Trial Championships as one of my goals for 2010 as it is a discipline I believed I could win. Problem with Time Trials when done properly, is besides the physical power required to do well in the event, your setup and equipment is crucial and can win or a lose a medal. So we have got sponsors onboard our team now that really push the envelope in providing us with world class equipment. We received most of our equipment about three weeks prior to the event, however, Carol Austin Activeworx coach was adamant that the frame for myself was not the correct size. Many e-mails and phone calls to sponsors in Belgium were flying around and with less than a week to go, despite myself still preparing for the race, I had no machine.
Then after much persuading and “fighting”, Eddy Merckx’s son in law personally flew in the frame for me, which they borrowed from Team Quickstep as they were the only team in the world with a frame in my size, dropped it off and flew out. Activeworx then worked overtime to have the frame built and ready for me to do a professional setup once I landed in Johannesburg on Tuesday midday. 2hrs later we were happy and on our way out to Klerksdorp.
I arrived and immediately headed out on the bike, 6pm, in the pouring rain and tried to find the course, which turned into a whole other story. But the bike felt good and we would have to wait and see.
We had great conditions on the day and the heat and humid weather helped me adjust to the altitude without too many problems. Once under way, I was fortunate enough to have the top of the range Sram SRM which proved invaluable to pacing myself for the first 20km of the race, allowing me to save enough energy to really wind up the final 5km.
At the end, it was unclear as to who had won, but I had timed myself and the two riders that I thought would be the quickest, and unofficially I knew I had it!
What a feeling! My first national road jersey and the whole team, staff and everyone behind the scenes deserves a big piece of that jersey too! Thank you.

Next race, Road and Time Trial Championships in Klerksdorp, two very big goals for our team. Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 48min30sec 47.5km/hr
2nd James Perry (EMG)
3rd Jaco Venter (MTN/Energade)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Ninetyniner, Construction du Cap

The Construction du Cap, otherwise called the Ninetyniner took place in Durbanville over the weekend and has always been a national seeding event and a very popular race for most cyclists to boost their Argus seeding. Team MTN/Energade won the event last year with Juan Van Heerden and this year we would be back, although only a very compact team consisting of Juan and myself. This year however the organizers decided a route change was in order, and they couldn’t have made a better change for myself personally even if they tried!
The race would now finish with the final 7km consisting of Vissershok climb, descending the other side and then the final 1.2km straight up Odendaal street, a near vertical final kilometer ascent to the line, probably the only “hill” top finish in any race I’ve done. Note to organizers, we need more finishes like this please.

Conditions were perfect on the day, and again with only two of us there, we’d have our work cut out for us. It’s always hard racing the Cape Town teams as you never know who to lookout for and which teams are strong on the day. We decided to watch Daikin Gu as one of the teams, and obviously David George (FullImput) when we hit the final 7km. soon after the start though, there was a number of other teams who began to send riders up the road and we could only follow so many moves before being caught out. Juan would do most of the following allowing whilst I sat on as much as possible. This worked well until two riders, most noticeably Dave Garret (Daikin Gu) slipped away with another rider from a bigger team, and very quickly creating a gap of up to two and a half minutes at one stage. So the two teams with the most riders each had a man up the road, no one was keen to hit the front of the race. So Juan and myself began to set a hard but steady tempo on the front, realizing everyone would just sit back and watch. This is when Erik Kleinhans (GT/Maties) came to the front and with one or two of his boys helped Juan pace on the front, allowing me to save my legs. Erik did an incredible job with Juan and for about 50km they rolled through and off to bring the two riders back, just in time with about 10km remaining before the “Vissershok” climb.
As expected, once we hit the climb, Dave George put in his attack and it was only myself who could follow the hard tempo. I came around him halfway up to continue his pace as we were opening a gap on the rest of the group. I won the King of the mountain going over the top and we had about only 15seconds on a small chase group. Then the final kilometer, straight up, we continued to drive a hard pace to stay away, and with about 300m to go I began my sprint, although looking more like a slow motion version, and managed to ride Dave off my wheel to hit the line first and win my second Ninetyniner!
It was another good effort by our compact “coastal” squad, and without the team work done by Juan and the help from Erik Kleinhans, the results may have been very different!

Next race, South African Road and Time Trial Championships in Klerksdorp, two very big goals for our team. Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 2hrs46
2nd David George (Fullimput)
3rd Stefan Ilenfeldt
4th Moolman Welgemoed (Daikin Gu)
5th Charles Keey (Blend)

Monday, February 8, 2010

VW Herald Cycle Tour

The prestigious VW Herald Cycle Tour celebrated its 25th year anniversary and with absolutely perfect conditions on the day, the likes of which I’ve never seen before in Port Elizabeth, the organizers had gone out of their way to pull out all the stops this year!
With racing going on around the country, we had decided to split our team up and it was important for us to support the Herald Cycle Tour as VW, a naming sponsor of the event, are also a big sponsor of ours. Unfortunately, Brad Potgieter, a key rider in the team had an accident before leaving to come down, so effectively it left only myself and fast man Juan van Heerden to fend off an aggressive bunch!
Being out numbered we would always have our work cut out for us, Team House of Paint had their full squad, and Barry Austins u23 CSA/Cyclelab boys were ready to try win another big race following their previous weekends success. Throw into the mix all the local teams and some Cape Town riders and the racing was fast and aggressive, but very exciting!
House of Paint took the racing to everyone when soon after the start, they began to attack in twos, forcing us to follow every move that went off the front. However the only significant move happened over the KOM at Theescombe climb when myself and Chris Jennings (U23/Cyclelab) rode away and built a decent gap. Tiaan Kannemeyer (House of Paint) and Johan van Zyl (U23/Cyclelab) rode across to us and with the two youngsters and myself committing hard and rolling through together, I really thought for a change that this move might make it! However House of Paint weren’t happy with the make up and over Maitlands climb they closed the break down, leaving the rest of the bunch in pieces.
However the racing was still on as guys tried various moves to ride away, but all unsuccessful as the bigger teams kept sending numbers across. At one stage with about 25km to go, a group of about 15 got away, I was there but well out numbered. I began to save my some what tired legs for a sprint finish but with 10km left to go, Juan was back with the full House of Paint team. They began setting it up for their sprinter and had the whole team on the front in the last 5km. I was looking after Juan, keeping him out the wind. He actually had the best lead out and just sat on the wheel of Dean Edwards, as I swept his wheel for him. Juan came around Dean in the final 200m and simply blasted past him to take the prestigious Herald title and open his winning account for 2010! I managed to finish 6th after sitting up watching my team mate take the victory, but that 6th place also gave us the first team prize on the day.
All in all a great weekend of racing for our team across the country in all the disciplines of the sport!
Next race, possibly the Construction du Cap in Cape Town, followed by a really busy period consisting of all my major goals for the year! Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Juan Van Heerden (MTN/Energade)
2nd Dean Edwards (House of Paint)
3rd Arnold Rust
4th Chris Jennings (U23/Cyclelab)
5th (Appologies?)
6th Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade)

VW Herald Mountain Bike Challenge

The popular VW Herald Cycle Tour, now in its 25th year, again hosted the mountain bike leg of the tour this weekend out at the Addo polo fields, and with a heat wave on the go, the start time was shifted forward to accommodate the slower riders as the thermometer would reach temperatures in the upper 40’s later on in the day!
Having ridden the same route now for the previous years Herald Tour as well as the Mondi Addo Cycle challenge, I was more than familiar with the route. It basically consists of a big climb up the Zuurberg Pass, followed by an extremely technical descent down a horsetrail, a decent of roughly 700m in 4km! From there you climb an equally tough singletrack climb back out the valley and from there on some really great trails through the Addo Park heading back to the Polo fields.
Roland Booker (Club100) was eager to test his legs out on his new Volcan and attacked shortly after the start. The other riders didn’t respond and it was satisfying to see his training paying off as he claimed the first “hotspot”. At the start of the Zuurberg climb, he had a nice gap on the rest of the field, and I began to test my legs, setting a hard tempo for the others to follow. Very soon I was on my own and riding the gap across to Roland. I caught him about 2km before the King of the mountain and we were still together when we began the “horsetrail” descend. I got a small gap down there and Rolands ride would come to an end with mechanical problems in this hectic section. I maintained a hard tempo up the next climb, opening up a gap to the chasing riders who were now splintered into small groups.
After the climb I really just had no pressure and rode a steady tempo, but thoroughly enjoyed the route and course! The new Volcan XC Pro I was riding handled like a dream and the Conti Race King UST tires were fast and bomb proof as ever, which is important in this very rough and thorny terrain.
I was amazed with the amount of support I had from the shorter distance riders and spectators and having started my mountain bike career here in the Eastern Cape, I soon remembered why.
In the end I managed to retain my title and win my third Herald Mountain Bike race. There was a phenomenal amount of TV coverage, which included Supersport , SABC and even a slot for YO TV, a kids program, plus obviously with the Herald newspaper as the title sponsor, the media coverage would be extensive. Another one of our team sponsors, VW, who is also a naming sponsor of the event was also there and it was great to support their event on behalf of our team.
Next race, Herald Cycle Tour, Road race, tomorrow, till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade) 3hrs40min
2nd Cornelius Muller (Fairbairn Private Bank)
3rd Charles Keey (Blend Cycling Team)