After a hard week on the bike I was apprehensive about the race but decided to do it to gauge the fitness and get to race with the new team without the pressures of league racing. It’s a short 75km course but Ou Kaapse Weg early and the wall of Boyes drive late would make it a challenge. I’d been out in Stellenbosch for a wedding and only got home at 11pm to be up at 4:45…not many zzz’s to be had.
The weather was gloriously still and overcast with spots of rain at times but never during the race and the roads stayed dry. It was rather warm and pleasant, even at 5am.
The start was fast, a few attacks came early and I followed all of them hoping to get a tow to the base of Ou Kaapse with a bit of a lead on the climbers, this didnt go to plan as I ended up off the front from the Tokai road circle and I was on the front taking the wind turning my 10 min interval in a 15 minute one, bad decision here. I decided to keep going and hope for a lead to buffer me. I only had a 100m or so but that lasted until the bottom hairpin, I filtered through the bunch and soon found myself out the back, I churned gears and didn’t panic. I knew it was coming and I sat a tempo I could maintain and have enough kick for the chase to come. Over the top I had a few guys with me and caught friends on a Tandem at the right time to let them lead the downhill and pull me back. I helped them where I could, or the tandem was slower and we’d caught a few guys before the bottom, more at the 4 way traffic lights and set off towards Kommetjie at 50kmph after the main bunch. We caught them just before Ocean View and we all sat in the bunch over Ocean View Drive. Carl was off the front so we assembled on the front to control the tempo and chased down attacks.
The attacking kept coming all through Misty Cliffs. As the gradient rose the climbers came to the fore on the attacks and I sat some wheels to the Red Hill Triangle, then it was back on front. Halfway up Smits David G and Theun rocketed off the front, I couldn’t chase and our team missed it. We gave them too much rope and set about bringing them back slowly. Over the top I took the lead and punched out mile after mile of downhill chase. I brought us back to within grasp, but too late as the two breakaways joined Carl. We sat up again.
We rolled around Simonstown and down the main road keeping the pack at bay again. shortly before Fish Hoek I slipped off the front, gifted by the team, with another rider. I rode a steady tempo to the base of Boyes drive again in the hope of a decent head start. I knew I was in trouble as the climbers came through again. I was just off the back on top of the wall but didn’t have the power to push through and join the bunch. I rode alone mostly and kept my speed up where I could. I could see some guys ahead, but not close the gap. I was taking chances through Westlake and dug my pedal into the tar and lifted the rear wheel off the ground in the bend…thankfully landing safely again and I rode on.
A lonely TT to the end and I managed to keep the deficit down to 1min30. The team gelled well together and I’m happy with out efforts which can only improve as we learn more.
I have got to recover some sort of climbing legs for the Cobra next weekend!