Monday, February 3, 2014

VW Herald Cycle Tour

VW Herald Cycle Tour, MTB 80km, Road 106km

The VW Herald cycle tour, one of the oldest events on the calendar, has always been one of my favorite races, being so close to home and the fact that I raced in the Eastern Cape as a junior rider. The race consists of a mountain bike race out in Addo, and the old faithful road race, around the same 106km route for the past twenty-nine years.

The mountain bike race has turned into a super technical route, with I guess around 35km of loose, rocky, thorny dry (for a change) single track, and finishes with about 15km of fast district roads to the finish.

James Reid and Gert Heyns put their exceptional cross country skills to use and got the initial gap on Darren Lill, Mathys Beukes and myself. Darren and I chased hard up the Zuurberg climb, and we were within about 15-20seconds of the leading two when we turned off the road and headed down the tricky descend. They managed to pull away from us, and we would not see either of them until the finish.
About the most action I would see there after, was Darren being switched in the single track by a calf, yes you read that correct, and I would have to stop and help him out of the thorn bush he was impaled onto. It could have ended much worse for him, but fortunately he was ok.
We then had to settle the minor placing with a sprint onto the Polo field where he just edged me out into fourth. Nonetheless, I was happy with my build up and continued good health!

The road race the next day also has a combined prize, called the Ultimate Quest, and sees an overall winner crowned from the two days. I would have some time to make up, but it was by no means over!

The wind was blowing, but it was strong South Westerly, so basically headwind out, tailwind back. After about 10km, I found myself attacking and getting a gap on the bunch, but was soon joined by two riders, one from Abuntu and one from Bonitas, the two big professional road teams on the day. Dylan Girdlestone and I worked hard and by the time the bunch caught us, it was already into pieces. Nolan Hoffman put a big effort in, and that forced the final split of the race. Three riders from Bonitas, two from Abuntu, Carl Pasio and myself.

The tactics from here would always to be to try and get rid of the sprinter, Nolan, but with a fast tailwind, and no climbing, would be very difficult.
The Bonitas riders would take turns in attacking, and this would slow down our momentum as a break away. Carl and I decided we would keep the pace high, and take our chances with a sprint in a group of six as opposed to being caught by the bunch and settling for nothing.

Unfortunately this is the nature of the beast when it comes to road racing and routes, which suit the fast sprinters. My legs were feeling the previous days effort, and Carl and I managed to keep it together till the finish, unfortunately we took 5th and 6th, but more than we could have, had we not driven that move. Plus I guess we animated the race and threw a few spanners into the tactics of some of the teams who needed to re-think theirs.

Next race is the beginning of our MTN National series, with the first race being held in Dullstroom. I will be flying up the day before, so I expect altitude to play a small role in my performance!
Till then, cheers.

Kevin Evans

Provisional results:
1st James Reid (Trek) 3:03
2nd Gert Heyns (PSY) 3:06
3rd Darren Lill (Cannondale/Blend) 3:11
4th Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec) 3:11

1st Nolan Hoffman (Abuntu)
2nd HB Kruger (Bonitas)
3rd Jade Julius (Bonitas)

6th Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec)

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