A-Team, Pic Belinda Blumeris
Photo Brad Thomas. Kevin Evans
Nedbank Tour de Plett Mountain Bike Race, 75km, 1400m
It’s fantastic to have a race in your hometown, and even better to have the event sponsored by your very own sponsors. Even though there was no pressure on us, as riders, you kind of feel that you owe them a good performance and I was lucky the way things worked out on race day, or at least luckier than my wingman who had an altercation with a fence about fifteen kilometers from the finish and was unable to continue, sent off to hospital for x-rays, but fortunately no broken bones!
The small town of Wittedrift hosted the mountain bike race, and the full 360life squad, including the bosses, descended on my sisters house about 100m from the start line to stay warm and have a last cup of coffee before the three hundred odd riders took to the three different distances the race offered. The field was good and with the likes of RE:CM, Bonitas and Blend Properties on the line, it looked to be a hard race. At least the weather was a far cry from last year and riders would be able to enjoy the route that ran through the Knysna indigenous forest and trails around Diepwalle forest station.
Darren Lill was eager to make the racing hard from the start, whilst I had to push hard to stay with him up the first climb. Near the top he had about a 20seond gap, and Waylon Woolcock and Ruan Du Toit soon joined me. We set about slowly catching him, but unfortunately for him, he decided to take the 30km route and missed a well-marked split in the two routes. Dave was a little behind us, having taken a three-week break after his great result in Trans Germany. So the three of us rode a steady tempo right around the course, and with my legs far from a hundred percent, I banked on my home turf knowledge of the final 10km including the technical descend into Buffalo Hills to try and make a gap that I could then sustain to the end.
Ruan popped off a few kilometers before this section, and as planned, I managed to get about a 10second gap on Waylon down the jeep track, just enough for me to be able to put in a final effort up the last drag and solo on into the finish, giving Nedbank 360life a super win in one of their own cycling events.
Generally the response was fantastic and all the riders thoroughly enjoyed the event.
Of course the event also included a road race with various distances, but the old classic ‘two passes’ race, 110km, was finally back and has to be said that this is possibly the nicest one day fun ride in the country. Bonitas had a full team on the start, and they made the racing hard and fast, and took all first five places on the podium, whilst I managed to hang onto about 8th place for the day. Again a very successful day, and great to have the whole of the Plett main street closed off for the cyclists!
A big thanks to the local organizers, Alan Kurhnet and Danie Erasmus, plus many more volunteers who came out to help marshal and do the admin most people don’t see. And of course, big thanks to Nedbank for backing my hometown race. It was a real privileged to defend my title from last year, and be part of our own classic!
Next race will be another ‘home town’ race, and classic, The Knysna Oyster Festival. Again two days of racing with the full team, as ‘Junior’ returns from the States.
Provisional results: MTB
1st Kevin Evans (Team Nedbank 360life) 2hrs58
2nd Waylon Woolcock (Team RE-CM)
3rd Ruan Du Toit (Blend Properties)