Cape Argus Cycle Tour, 107km, 990m
I suppose besides the South African Road Race Championships, in this country, the Cape Argus is as big as it gets when it comes to one-day races. And it is a special event, going on for 35years, with nearly 40000 riders taking part, attracting any and everyone from previous Tour de France Champions to various political figures and celebrities, its South Africa’s most iconic road race. It’s also the largest timed cycle event in the world. And very often your cycling capabilities are judged by the finish time you post in this race! Dave and I were trying to work out the night before how many times we had done this race, but must have guessed at least forty times between the two us.
Conditions were perfect for the 35th year, and the only problem would be for the middle to back field riders as temperatures would easily reach mid thirties later on. For the professional bunch, with our ‘normal’ start time around 6am, we would be done way before the heat could affect us. This year our group was fairly big as we had some big teams, plus veteran A bunch riders with us. Possible the group was a little too big for a professional bunch, so safety becomes a big concern.
I was adamant to ride as conservatively as possible this year, but making sure I stayed out of trouble. That was the most important factor for Dave and I, to finish safely. The flurry of attacks continued the whole way around the Cape Point, with no real significant moves or breaks succeeding as the big teams controlled the tempo.
It was once we hit Chapmans Peak that Dave decided to light it up, and with some good depth in the front, with riders like Christoph Sauser, Darren Lill, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg, Jaco Venter and a few others, we had actually forced a small split over the top. Speeding down in towards Hout Bay, only a few more riders were able to join, most notably some more sprinters like Johan Rabie, Arran Brown and Hanco Kagelhoffer. The tempo was consisitent up Suikerbossie and we rolled over the top with a group of around 12 riders. For Dave and myself, this was as good as it was going to get for this course. Really bad luck for us though as no sooner were we on the descent to Camps Bay and Dave punctured, ending his chances as he waited for the vehicle to get a spare wheel. Meanwhile, the group was starting to get nervous and once through Camps Bay, we started to attack to see if we could split the small group further to avoid taking the fast men to the line. Darren Lill and myself had a few tries, but Reinardt from MTN/Qhubeka was really strong, and was able to bring back all the moves we tried.
I had a final dig with 1500m left to race, but again I was caught within the last kilometer. Reinardt saw his gap, and took the sprint from a long way out. I was on his wheel briefly till he literally just rode away from me and powered his way to a well-deserved and predicted win. Herman Fouchie took second for Bonitas, Jaco Venter third for his Cape Town team Nuwater, and Arran Brown just beating me for fourth place.
I was really pleased to get fifth, just ahead of fellow mountain biker Christoph Sauser. I think for a non-sprinter, it was as good as we could have hoped for. Anyway the signs are looking good for Dave and I, and we made it through safely, and also put on a good show considering we were just a two-man team against the biggest teams in the country.
Next race, Cape Epic, say no more.
Dave and I will be heading off to the serenity and trails of Harkerville to fine tune and taper for the race, and will be back in Cape Town a couple days before the start.
Till then, cheers.
1st Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (MTN/Qhubeka) 2hrs36min
2nd Herman Fouchie (Bonitas)
3rd Jaco Venter (Nuwater)
4th Arran Brown (MTN/Qhubeka)
5th Kevin Evans (Nedbank Team360life)