|The bridge to the finish|
Photo Zoon Cronje. Kevin Evans
MTN Ridemag Crater Cruise, Parys, 107km, 950m
The final race of the MTN Ultra Marathon series would again be contested at the Crater Cruise race in Parys, and although the series was essentially over, the prestige and the big cash bonus was still up for grabs in the race.
Nedbank 360life would have the full squad of three riders, with James Reid riding his last race for this season, whilst Dave and I would still have the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek to compete starting the following day in Oudtshoorn.
Some nice rains the previous days had made the route fairly compacted, and it was the first time I remember that the dust was settled for the race. A full field was assembled for the race, and the competition looked good and ready. Dave I had a set plan for the race, not very different from the previous few years, and having won it the past three years, I seem to know how to ride the race and pace my efforts accordingly.
The bunch stayed fairly big and without too much excitement in the first 40km, as I’m sure most of the competition has taken a leaf out of my book as to how the race can be won. Once we hit the first big climbs for the day, Dave set the early tempo, and I joined him, followed shortly by James Reid, Phil Buys and Adrien Niyonshuti. We had negotiated the rocky descend and crossed the halfway point, rolling through together when the chase bunch of around 10 more riders caught us. All of a sudden the group had swelled into the biggest lead bunch I’d seen in the previous 5years of the race. I think a big part of this was due to the depth in the field, with more riders showing better form for the race. This would also mean I’d have to devise another strategy, other than what I’ve been accustomed to in the previous few years.
|The group heading into the final 20km|
With around 35km to go, Dave started hammering out the intervals, and soon whittled the bunch down to around 8riders. His hard efforts were taking their toll on everyone, with a few strong counter attacks from the MTN/Qhubeka pairing of Van Rensburg and Nyionshuti, the lead group was tiring fast. I tried to force a split in the usual place of my race, but again there was too much firepower in the group to try and break away.
I decided I would have to wait till we went under the highway, with a slight bumpy incline, to really give one last hard effort where it would count, to try and ride away, and put the effort in where it counted.
Soon I had a slight gap over the six riders, and the slightest hesitation was all I needed to put my head down and put in everything I had left. Fortunately I had fueled myself well during the race and had the energy when it counted. This, along with the fact that I knew the final 10km so well, and how to pace myself through it, would mean I could extend my lead to around a minute, and really enjoy the final few kilometers into the finish and under the ‘Arc du Triumph’ for my fourth consecutive win.
|Junior learns fast!|
I was unawares as to how the race was unfolding behind me, but James Reid had put in a great effort to ride away from the remaining riders to take a one two for our team, whilst Neil Macdonald just edged out Dave for third and fourth place respectively.
It was a fantastic end to our MTN Ultra series, and the team very nearly retained the title. Again, I must thank Advendurance, Frits, Wessel, Francoise, Tim plus all the rest of the team behind the scenes for organizing yet another world class race and series! Thanks very much and for sure Nedbank 360life will continue to support the series next season. Also thanks to Attie and Hannes Kookemoer for their continued support of the Crater Cruise.
Next race will be, today, in Oudtshoorn, when we start the seven days Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek. Fortunately we had a private flight from a good friend Warwick Langebrink, who personally flew us down straight after the race, to help ensure maximum recovery, as there is less than 24hrs between the two events.
Provisional results: MTB
1st Kevin Evans (Team Nedbank 360life) 3hrs30
2nd James Reid (Team Nedbank 360lfe)
3rd Neil Macdonald (RE:CM)
4th Dave George (Team Nedbank 360life)
5th Adrien Nyionshuti (MTN/Qhubeka)