I got a call from Andy Lambert, my dietitian last night, he says: Hey Nev, How did the race go? I say; It couldn’t have gone better Andy. I won!
The weather reports said trouble all week, wind wind and more wind followed by torrential rain, but on the day the weather held up pretty well, no rainfall but still some gusty winds.
The heavy headwind on the way out to Riebeek Kasteel meant that nobody wanted to sit on the front, no-one could get away off the front, and also meant a slow meandering for 35km until the turnoff towards the climb. As we turned left the wind was from the side and I thought gutter would kickstart the heart rate again but the fireworks didn’t start until the climb.
Flippie got things going with an initial burst but didn’t hold it, then midway up just after the flat section the Anderson lads lit it up. I followed and maintained a manageable gap tot he two fastest guys but rode with the main chase of 6 riders. On top the headwind started up again and the 9 of us regrouped, looked back at the carnage still climbing and rallied into a break.
We were now with the wind but it was blowing from our right so we set up a well oiled echelon and set the pace high at 45-50km per hour on the flats and in the 70’s downhill. We quickly built a gap and soon after the pack was no longer in sight.
Still 35km out the fun began as Robbie Rodriguez jumped away. We let him take 200m but that soon doubled and we set off in chase, he is very strong and it took unusually long to reel him in. Once we had caught him guys were looking around like cat and mouse was going to start, but some stern words from the Colonel got things back on track and normal service resumed, each man taking his turn.
Robbie jumped again and this time took team mate Clive Seebrechts with him and Neil Bradshaw went too and the three of them combined would be a hard chase and the boys were getting tired. Heimer put in massive turns as did Luke and I, with Flippie helping out as well. We took 8-10 kays to catch them, hovering about 300-500m off but unable to shut them down sooner. We caught them on Paardeberg road with 15km to go, and we could relax a little and catch our breath for the finale. I knew the last roller at the school would be the dealbreaker. Luke took my turns and Heimer took the Colonels. Robbie sat on the back like a lion in wait and we all took on nutrition. I drank the last of my FiT bottles and took some antilac tabs to put any cramps to bed early. We were with the wind so it was smooth sailing.
Luke lead us out the way to the last roller at the school, which is like a 2 in one, Luke held the bunch at bay over the first rise and then the flats gave some respite, at the next rise though it kicked off just as I suspected it would, I was prepared as Clive danced over the front and I quickly countered, Robbie came too and took the lead shielding his team mate. Only Neil could match us three and the four of us crested clear. Robbie was set to do the work for Clive and drove the gap home down the hill towards the finish, putting Neil and I in the gutter.
We rounded the final bend and I caught sight of the finish line, we were way out on the right hand side still and 600m out. I decided to go sooner than later and I caught Clive unawares as he waited for his lead out man to take him closer. I dove up the left well clear and out of the slip, Neil was on my wheel for sure and would try pick a moment to come around, I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and I wasn’t giving up that easily though. I dug deeper than I thought I could and kicked even harder, Neil faded and the finish line came. I had won.
Disbelief turned to ecstasy.
What a feeling 🙂