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)

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