Monday, February 28, 2011

Tour of South Africa

Kevin Evans

The Cell C Tour of South Africa was always going to be a tall task as a race in which I wanted to perform well. Tough because I was literally starting the tour with five weeks of training in my legs, and my mind was way ahead of my body. However, it was an event I could not miss, being the inaugural Tour of SA. This is my shortened version of a weeks racing and a short debrief.

We assembled a team of some exciting youngsters, and went to the race with big ambitions. I think we exceeded our expectations and the gains we took out the tour were plenty. It was great to ride an international tour again with Dave, and see the respect that he has from the foreign riders and teams. We were there as serious contenders and raced to win it. The coverage we received and the media and exposure was incredible and ensures that a sponsor like Nedbank and 360Life are really getting fantastic value out of their sponsorship, making for a bright future as another big sponsor enters the cycling game.

The Tour also had some big ambitions and the only stage in which there were problems, was by no fault of the organizer, but more the general public who are impatient when it comes to cycling. The rest of the tour went off incredibly well. Even with one or two lengthy transfers, everything ran smooth and swiftly. The routes we raced on gave the best of what the country has to offer, from the capital city to the windy city, the Garden Route and the Karoo, and the beautiful Western Cape. What a way to showcase South Africa.

To win the tour became a tall ask after some teams under estimated the strength of Kristian House and his Rapha Condor Sharp team mates, when he was allowed to gain too big a gap on the first day. Most teams ‘woke’ up too late in the stage to do anything about it, and from day one, we would always be playing catch up.

We had one chance to try and get the jersey off Kristian, and it involved isolating him, with only one day really in which to do it. So the plan for Dave was to conserve as much energy as possible throughout the tour, then lay it all out on the penultimate stage where the profile suited him, and leaving Rapha Condor to defend. All worked well, except for the fact that other teams seemed to forget what race tactics involved and decided to rather ‘help’ Rapha Condor keep the jersey and race effectively for second, or third place in the tour.

In any event, it was really great to have our sponsors in the ‘hot seat’ of the team car and able to follow some of the stages, and get a front row seat to the action in a race. I think it was a big eye opener for most, including my father to see what goes on in the convoy.

We had an amazing backup team too, Uwe, John, Rodger, there dedication in helping us was fantastic and often there jobs are harder than ours. They work late and start early, but without them, the results of the team would not be the same.

Personally, the physical changes my body went through in the eight days was huge, and will go along way in preparing me for the upcoming Epic. The benefits will be reaped soon and I felt really motivated to finish off the tour feeling stronger than when I started.

Thanks very much to our sponsors, 360Life, Nedbank, Scott bikes, Donald Christie from Reeds, Etana Insurance, USN products, Continental tires, Probike and BBB Helmets, for all our support and assistance.

Again, to Cell C and the organizers, I said it on live television and I’ll say it again, Team360Life appreciated the opportunity given to us to be part of the tour. We came to win, we came with ambitions, we animated the race, we conducted ourselves with integrity and did our sponsors proud, we mentored a few youngsters and above all, we had a great race and we were part of a successful tour! Thank you.

Next race, The Grape Escape, a three day mountain bike race in the Cape. Yes, the skinny tires are being hung up, the knobbles are coming out and we are a month out from our major objective for the year! Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

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Provisional results:

1st Kristian House (Rapha Condor Sharp)

2nd Johan Rabie (Bonitas)

3rd Daryl Impey (MTN/Qhubeka)

4th Perrig Quemeneur (Europcar)

5t Thomas Degand (Veranda Willems-Accent)

7th Dave George (Team360Life)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Reeds Delta 99er

Kevin Evans

The Reeds Delta 99er takes place in Durbanville, put on by the El Shaddai School. And every year the organizers do a great job putting on this event. It has special memories for me as it was one of the first road races I won in 2004, and then last year, with the route change to the finish, managed to win it again, just edging out team mate Dave George.

This year it again attracted the top Cape Town based teams, along with a few professional riders honing their form for the upcoming Tour of South Africa in a weeks time, including the likes of newly crowned South African Chmpion Darren Lill(DCM), Carl Pasio(RSA Web), Christian Kriek(Toyota/Cycle Lab) and of course Team360Life.

The race was really fast out the blocks, and with not much wind, the attacks were thick and fast. However with quite a few teams with numbers like Daikin Gu, Cape Town Fishmarket and RSA Web, everyone was marking each other and it was a great speed session for the first hour. It was about after an hour when I had another dig and nobody followed, and as I was there more for the workout, I decided to carry on and see what transpired. Luckily for me I saw a rider coming across the gap, and after a short while, my old team mate from way back then joined me, Alistair Davies from Daikin Gu. We rolled through together and basically did enough to keep the peleton at around a minute. It was a super effort and I believe the group behind had to work fairly hard to chase us. I was reluctant to give up, and even when Alistair tired, I continued to make the tempo hard by myself, merely getting the workout in. I stayed away from the bunch until around 10km to go, and unfortunately for me, I knew Vissershok was waiting, and the legs were not feeling good by this stage.

Dave was looking good when the group caught us, and I decided to dig a little more to stay with them to see if I could be of any assistance. On the small climb leading into Vissershok I got dropped, but fought hard to get back, and once I got back, I attacked again, I think it was my only chance to get over the climb in the front! I managed again to get a small gap, enough to get a head start on the climb, and I only just made it over the top with the small group of around 7 riders, including all the favorites.

Big effort, but that was me done, and I had to grovel up the final one kilometer climb to the finish line, but workout done.

Dave managed 5th in the small gallop to the finish, the young Christian Kriek edging out Darren Lill for the win, and Carl Pasio taking third. For my consolation prize I managed to take the ‘King of the wind’ prize.

Combined with another couple hours of training after the race, it was another goal achieved for me in my mission to find my form!

Thanks again to the race organizers for having Team360Life at their event, and giving us great radio airtime and coverage, another fantastic event they put on.

Next race, the all exciting and finally much anticipated Cell C Tour of South Africa. We have a great team for this, and I’m looking forward to the week of racing to help with my preparation. Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Provisional results:

1st Christian Kriek (Toyota/Cycle Lab)

2nd Darren Lill (DCM)

3rd Carl Pasio (RSA Web)

4th Stefan Ingenfeldt (CT Fishmarket)

5th Dave George (Team360Life)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

South African Road Championships & VW Herald Cycle Tour

Kevin Evans pic Torque pics

South African Road Championships, Port Elizabeth

The road race champion of South Africa would be decided on a really tough circuit in down town Port Elizabeth, and would be slightly earlier in the year than normal to try and attract some of our international pro riders to the race.
The circuit would be described as a climbers route, but the nature of the power profile according to the data from the SRM file would suggest otherwise. It would however be only the strongest rider on the day that would win, and this would be deservedly so!

After a mere three weeks of training, and in the middle of a big block of training, I was only there to support Dave and get some good hard intensity into my training schedule. Plus with another race the following day, the back to back efforts would be much needed for my current form. The circuit had been reduced to 9km a lap, and we would have 18laps to contend, starting in the scorching heat at 13:30. Each lap featured basically two climbs of around 450m each, but back to back, over the 18laps, would take their toll on the group and become a race of attrition. Also once dropped from the main bunch, there would be no place for you to ride back into the group, so it was a case of hang on tight for as long as you could. Not my usual strategy, but a humbling one at the moment.
The first two laps began with such a ‘bang’, that I thought I’d be lucky to see 5laps of the 18! The only motivation was that the group was rapidly being thinned out and seeing some of the riders that had dropped out made me dig a little deeper to hang in their. I also thought the longer I’m there for Dave the better. In the mean while, Paul Van Zweel who is our younger rider joining us for the Tour of SA, made the move into the break and was giving 360Life some great coverage for most of the race at the head of affairs. Their group got a maximum time gap of around 3minutes, but by the tenth lap, the bunch started to up the pace and close the break down. It was around this point that I was battling to hang onto the bunch, and with only around 30riders left, and after 12laps, I decided to quit banging my head against the wall, and call it a day. Dave obviously felt the same as on the same lap, he sat up and we decided together that our race was over. The end of March is a fair way off, and neither of us want to be going really well so early on.
The last few laps saw about 10riders remaining, and on the final two laps, only four riders were left with a chance, but it was the small powerful Darren Lill from DCM who would win and claim the title of South African Road Champion, ahead of Burry Stander(Specialized) and Christoff Van Heerden(MTN/Qhubeka) in 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The VW Herald Cycle Tour
So bright and early the following morning, we were back on the ‘grid’ to start the classic Herald Cycle Tour. Conditions were good, with a fairly strong headwind going out. This would make any breakaways tough to succeed, but none the less, no sooner had we turned up towards Walmer, about 5km into the race, and the attacks began. Both Dave and I felt much better today, and we were fairly aggressive in the early stages of the race, giving ourselves a great workout and doubling up our racing which will be needed soon.
There was a flurry of the usual attacking in the first 50km, and we were following most of the moves, I was feeling a lot more comfortable than the previous day, which felt really good.

It was a really big group, but with the headwind out, most of the group stayed together. Only after we had ridden the climb after halfway, and were back onto Seaview road, did a group of around 10riders get a gap off the front. With the wind from behind, the speed was really fast, and most of the teams had riders there, so it was likely that the move would stick. 360Life also had a rider there, again one of our youngsters riding the Tour with us, Shuan Nick Bester.
So for us, the last 20km or so was fast, but relatively ‘easy’ as we sat in the bunch and watched the smaller teams try and get riders across to the move.

With 10km remaining, it was clear that the break was gone, and although I cannot comment on what happened in the front, Shaun Nick apparently had a good dig in the final kilometer with Ian Mcleod(DCM), and very nearly made it too, only to be caught in the last couple hundred meters!
Bonitas rider Tyler Day would take the sprint, ahead of Daryl Impey(MTN/Qhubeka) and David Maree(Tasol/GT).

So I was happy with my progression, finishing off with 28hr week and just over 800km. It was also great to see that our Tour team is looking really strong and on form in time, as the Tour of SA starts in two weeks time. Hopefully just enough time for me to find some more kilometers, and then use the Tour as great preparation for our main objectives!

Next race will be in Cape Town next weekend, The Construction Du Cap 99er, a race I’ve won twice, last year only just edging out Dave in the uphill sprint! With all the good Cape Town teams, should be another good workout!
Till then, cheers.
Kevin Evans