Photo by Sean Steyn: Kevin Evans
Tour De Plett Mountain Bike Challenge, 75km, 1700m
The inaugural Tour De Plett kicked off this weekend with a mountain bike challenge, comprising of three distances and was held in the small town of Wittedrift just a few kilometers outside of Plettenberg Bay. Again I would have my hands full to try and win another “home town” event as the MTN/Qhubeka team had stayed the week after Knysna to take part in this inaugural event. Besides the stiff competition, I also had post Xterra legs to deal with, and that was definitely going to make it even harder.
With all the rain we had the week leading up to the event, the course was completely water logged and would take its toll on the riders and equipment. The course was fairly similar to the Knysna Oyster route, although starting in Wittedrift, we would head up the ‘Stofpad’ and onto Petrus se Brand but in reverse. The 75km route would have 1700m of climbing in it, and combined with the conditions, made the route one of the hardest in the area. But the Club100 had done their homework, and everything ran smoothly on the day, amble marshals, enough water points, and most importantly, some proper mountain biking which is what its all about!
The group was thinned down to only five riders after the first big wet climb up the ‘Stofpad’, three from MTN/Qhubeka, Charles Keey, Jacques Janse Van Rensburg and Adrien Nyionshuti, youngster James Reid (Mr Price/BMC) and myself. (Teammate Dave had opted to take his break and so left me to ‘hold the fort’ on my own.)
The guys were riding a fairly steady pace, and I thought that Adrien would be the instigator of making the racing really tough, but it was Jacques and Charles who started turning in the screws after around 40km. And when they started attacking, they did so with gusto. James was riding really well and managed to help me chase down one or two attacks, but the boys in yellow were clearly on a mission.
I was starting to wonder if they would ever slow down, and didn’t favor my chances riding against three of them to the finish. Just then Adrien put in a massive effort, and it took literally everything I had left in my legs to follow him and stay on his wheel. Fortunately for me we were distancing the other riders, but I still had to keep up with him. The last 15km were a bit easier and I knew I just needed to hang with him to the end to have a chance. I also knew the last couple kilometers really well as its one of my training routes. Once through the trickiest section, the descend down Buffalo Hills Reserve, it was straight forward to the end, but I had to ride on the front as I saw a MTN rider coming across not far behind.
In the end it was a sprint and again I was lucky to take it from the front, as it was who ever went around the final corner first would take the win, and I just managed to do this, narrowly edging out Adrien to win the race.
After that effort, the road race the following day would merely be for the sake of taking part in my hometown event. After that I look forward to taking a few days off the bike to build for the last half of the season.
1st Kevin Evans (360life)
2nd Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka)
3rd Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (MTN/Qhubeka)
Next race, Tour de Tuli, in August, although I hear from our sponsors that its not a race. I will certainly train my red wine and beer threshold for that one!
Till then, cheers.