A classy field of South Africa’s top pro’s filled the start pen ready to give the race a crack. As it’s really close to SA and World Marathon Champs, now is the time to start shinning.
Kevin and I had laid out a race strategy which we thought would work best for us. I would make the racing hard at the beginning to isolate some of the other riders from their team mates and hopefully we could get away. The other option was if I got away, Kevin would marshal the chase bunch and ride across to me at the end. So the plan was in place.
All seemed in order and after 10km Darren Lill and I got away. I knew the chase bunch behind consisted of Kevin, Gawie Combrinck, Hanco Kakkelhoffer, and Waylon Woodcock (who would sit on as his team mate Lill was up the road with me) as well as Nico Bell and Lourens Luus.
The only team put under pressure was RECM, now paying the price for not having a rider able to go with Darren and I early on. Knowing both riders and their competitive spirits I was budgeting that neither of them [Bell or Luus] would be prepared to work together, with one having to sacrifice his own chances for the win by trying to close the gap for the other. Sometimes in a team you have to make scarifies, work together and rejoice in a team mates success putting personal ambitions aside for the good of the team. Sadly with the team captain out due to injury and not much cohesion between these two teammates the situation worked in favour of Darren and I.
By the 60km mark Darren and I had built up a solid lead fortunately as some days you need to be humbled and today was one of those for me. Having not executed the correct nutrition strategy in the heat of tactical racing I hit the wall completely, with a spectacular mushroom cloud. To be honest there were stages where I thought it would be easier to just get off and push my bike!
Now racing in survival mode, I don’t even know how I dragged myself through the next 50km.
Somehow I managed, obviously moving faster than it felt I rolled over the line in 2nd position. An excellent win for Darren hard earned with aggressive racing from the gun. Exactly what we need in SA to lift our level of competition.
A mere 30 seconds later Kevin came charging in in third position and man did he look strong. After he had taken care of the chasing bunch and he’d set his sights on the Iead. In my opinion Kev was the strongest rider on the day. His race was very cat and mouse, with me up the road he needed a very hard section to get rid of the chasers and cross over to the leaders [which he came very close to doing]. Finishing as strongly as he did it’s a really great sign for the upcoming events. We where chuffed with our two podiums spots and really are starting to gel as a team.
As always thanks to FedGroup Financial Services, Itec Group, Kia Motors SA, Crusader Logistics and Kathea Communications for keeping the dream alive along with Trek, USN, Quickrock and Shimano for providing us with top notch equipment and nutrition.