Photo by Suzi Giliomee: Kevin Evans
Pick n Pay Argus Mountain Bike Challenge, Boschendal, 66km, 1380m
The off-road version of the Argus Cycle tour has always taken place the Sunday before its big brother, The Cape Argus, and in a short space of time, gained in popularity and prestige. As I first contested it in 2004, it always fascinates me to see how this event has changed and become one of the more organized down in the Cape. With Race Director Dave Bellairs and course designers Meurant Botha, the event really caters for all levels of riders and provides them with a fun, but also serious route that tests rider’s skills and fitness, and all in the space of the beautiful Boschendal wine estates. The 65km route includes a little bit of everything for the pros.
The other noticeable change this year was the addition of the race being held separate to the Columbia Grape Escape which last year finished on this course, but was separate from the Argus race. This way round, anyone could come and contest the race, whether you raced the stage race or not, so a few new dynamics would unfold during the race. Although the guys who rode the Grape Escape were on the grid, there would be a few fresh hungry athletes, with fresh legs, and would mean a tough battle. I too would start with relatively fresh legs as my wingman, Dave, took ill the night before the final stage of Grape Escape, and we had to call it quits on the last day. This however meant and I could conserve my strength for the Argus race.
This paid off as I had fairly fresh legs on the day, and began making the tempo hard as soon as the roads turned upward. The big group was slowly splitting up, and at around 35-55km, I went full gas, and soon Burry and Christoph were the only two riders who could join me in the front. Having both the Songo riders with was not ideal. I had to race smart, and had decided that I cannot take either rider to the line for a sprint, so was going to have to try get away somewhere in the remaining kilometers. We went through a river crossing, which was followed by some really rough and rocky jeep tracks, and Spark was absolutely incredible through this section, so I again went as hard as I could here. Unbeknownst to me, Burry had a mechanical issue at the crossing, whilst Christoph fought hard to stay on my wheel. After about 5km Christoph popped off my back wheel and this was my gap. The final 8km I just had to concentrate and make sure I rode steady and safely, which I did, and I was able to enjoy winning this great race for the second time. Christoph held on for second, just ahead of Jacques Rossouw who had made up some time in the latter part of the race.
1st Kevin Evans (Nedbank Team360life) 2hr23:19
2nd Christoph Sauser (Songo) 2hrs24:52
3rd Jacques Rossouw (Fedgroup-Itec-connect) 2hrs25:56
Next race, the big one in Cape Town, The Cape Argus Cycle Tour. Not a very important race for us, but one which we love doing and joining the other forty thousand odd riders that take part in it. Should be fun!
Till then, cheers.