Kevin Evans, pic Zoon Cronje
So the fourth event in the MTN Ultramarathon series took place in the small town of Clarens in the FreeState. Weather leading up to the event was fantastic but true to form, the day and night before the race, heavy showers turned sections of the route into “mud baths”!
The Ultra event was as tough a race in the series as I’ve done before, and the altitude always plays a small part to how you feel. I was content to just stay with front group which split up fairly quickly in the first technical section. It seemed like the two big teams, Garmin/Adidas and MTN were set for some great racing. Others in the front were Ben Melt Swanepoel (MR Price/Specialized), but again the group thinned out when we hit the first climb of the day.
The front group now contained Mannie Heymans, Philip Buys and Ben Melt, Melt however had a bad crash on the rocky descent which put an end to his race, fortunately he was ok though.
At the next big climb, shortly past the feed zone at 52km, I rode a hard tempo up the rough climb, trying to get maximum advantage on Philip, knowing the downhill that follows the climb, I wanted to ride my pace. As it turned out I managed to hold a gap of around 30sec on Philip at the bottom of the downhill, and in the next 15km, I increased the gap to around 2min. I knew what awaited us however in the final 20km, and the final climb turned into a monster! I could only just manage riding the whole way but fortunately it was at my own pace again. Once over the top I had about 10km of technical descending including a steep portage of around 300m down a rocky staircase.
In the end I managed to defend the race I won the previous year, further extend my lead in the MTN Series and get a great victory for myself and the team.
Garmin led home the pack to claim 2nd, 3rd and 4th, Mannie, Philip and Francoise Theron.
MTN/Energade team mate Adrien Niyonshuti took 5th place, really well done considering he was sick, Paul Cordes in 6th and Justice Makale 10th.
In the ladies it was our team mates, Yolande Speedy and Mariske Struass who took a great 1st and 2nd for the team. Again thanks very much to Nicole, our manager and Rodger, mechanic, who both worked hard as usual behind the scenes.
Next race, MTN Panorama tour, with some of our big corporate sponsors. Should be a great 4 days of riding in the Lowveld. Till then, cheers.
1st Kevin Evans (MTN/Energade)
2nd Mannie Heymans (Garmin/Adidas)
3rd Phillip Buys (Garmin/Adidas)
4th Francoise Theron (Garmin/Adidas
5th Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN/Energade)