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

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