Cape Argus MTB Challenge, Le Bonheur, 55km, 1500m
Lets try this race wrap in reverse.
I cross the line, hands in the air, its finally happened, and been along time coming, but after all my setbacks and issues, I’ve worked harder and smarter than ever, and its paid off now, I’ve won a big race! I’m back, I’m healthy, and I’ve given something small back to my sponsors who stood by me in the lean times.
Only to hear the announcer say “Well done on taking bronze.”
Its then I see the Cannondale/Blend team being interviewed. Confused, upset, angry, embarrassed were just a few of the emotions running through me at the time.
I mean, in a race that saw a furiously fast start, with a world-class field, including world champions in various disciplines, national and continental champions, there was no lack in depth. The winner would be the strongest rider, no questions.
A race that was so hard that only around ten riders could follow the speed at the front. A race that then saw me up front, causing the final split, that only Sauser, Reid and Rabie could follow.
A race that then saw me start to drop these three riders up a steep long paved climb, only to be told by the lead motorbike that the marshal had sent us all the wrong way.
It’s hard to explain what this does to your motivation when you have just dug so deep for the last hour of racing. My day was over, finished. Or was it?
The group of eight riders who were chasing us, had also been directed wrong, but waited for us at the turn where we were sent off course. The riders then said you guys go, we will give you thirty seconds, and we carry on racing. I was blown away by this gesture of sportsmanship, and when the wheel turns, which it always does, it will go along way in my books.
So I guess the racing was on again, fire up the engines, and just like that it was the four of us again. Straight back to full tempo. Reid being the first of the lead group to drop off. Sauser and I setting the tempo whilst Rabie matched our efforts.
8km to go, a final huge effort and push for glory, and the World Champ is off, Rabie and I still trading blows. I’m so close, everything is burning, but I must keep pushing. I get a ten second gap, I hold it for the last 5km, which seems to never end, but it will be rewarded, soon. Or not. As I discover once I crossed the line.
Turns out that not all the guys had waited at that junction, some were further behind than the chasing group of eight. And that in the more or less six minutes we had lost up that climb, the marshal had been briefed and was sending riders the correct way.
Bitter sweet? Maybe.
At least I know where my form is, with the world’s biggest race just around the corner.
Next race is a road tour, and part of our final build up the Epic. Tour de Boland and Cape Argus Cycle Tour, a good five days of racing coming up, joined by Neil for this block.
Till then, cheers.
1st Darren Lill (Cannondale/Blend)
2nd Charles Keey (Cannondale/Blend)
3rd Kevin Evans (FedGroup-ITEC)