Ok so the first race of the season kicked off in Worcester, the weather couldn’t be better, a bit frosty but warming up… thank goodness…no wind!

I’d had enough carbs to sustain a small African country the day before, and was ticking like a nervous racehorse in the gates… once we we’re rolling things eased up a bit, I sat near the back with Ray (who was already marshaling the troops over the radios) the cold had negated any sort of warm up and the peloton took its easy while the guys all loosened up. Two development okes made a break early on, nothing to worry about as they were brought back with little effort inside 5km. Then we rolled though the potholed strewn main road of Rawsonville and did the loop around the back of the town, the 90 degree turns yo-yoing the field  as the front guys put some pressure on. On a relatively straight section ¾ way back of the field there was contact and 2 guys went down.. I took evasive action but glanced my front wheel off the guys back… I managed to  keep it upright, shoulder to shoulder with other escapee’s and could hear guys behind me locking up wheels and blistering tubbies…

I looked down to check the damage and survived with only my front wheel skew from the knock at around 15 degrees off centre. I couldn’t stop, and rode the rest of the race like that, a little un-nerving but ok if I didnt look down. At about 15 km’s in, around another tight bend and over a narrowing cattle trap more guys collided and handlebars caught rear wheels, I passed them while they untangled but heard later his frame was snapped…

Team Olympic Cycles had survived all casualty and crept forwards in the bunch to check the state of play… four riders had gone clear in the carnage and their team mates were playing games with the pace…slow, brakes, fast, settle brake… the usual.

The pack held some sort of formality, aside from numerous punctures whistling through the pack for the next stretch or road pretty flat with a few attacks thrown in, not that we minded as this would bring the break closer. Approaching the gravel now and we were riding 10 wide on a 4 abreast section as guys jostled for position, we hit the gravel and almost instantly there were punctures, the guys on the front, were clearly tipped off about the 20 naked virgins serving ice cold beer on the other side of the climb and they buried the pedals…the mortals hanging on for dear life in their wake… over the top the Daikin guys had caused a split, Moolman now driving a steam train back to the bridge. I went over with my team in the second bunch and began splitting wind with the rest of the gravity challenged on the decent. We pulled them back after 5 kays of work pulling the rest of the pack with us. The drastic increase in the pace over the gravel had also led to the catch of the initial break, that had 1:45 on us before the “Roubaix” section on gravel.  After the catch is was just a matter of chasing down mini breaks until we got within range of the finish.

The last 4 km to the finish was narrow, lined with walkers and people in wheel chairs (I thought, how did the SV beat us, but no) back to the matter at hand, wait, hammy, sh!t I forgot to drink… I downed my drink in a futile attempt to negotiate with my body… anyway I was there to lead out Alex… in the narrow road, vying for wheels and position Alex and I switched… and I held his wheel… there was an early sprint by Martin Van Staden which I had to follow, Alex now back on my wheel… too early…I was at my peak next to Moolies and I could smell the rubber pouring off his back wheel, I was fading. Alex came past me and I watched them over the line…Robert Quinn  hands in the air..he can thank us later…

Overall we were happy with our result, Alex got 6th and I was 15th or so (the rest of the guys got beaten in the sprint for the timing mats!) Good team work and communication, and no mishaps.

Great day to ride a bike!

TDW

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