The second race of the season was held in sunny conditions out in the Boland. A new route for the year left much speculation about the course, the area is wide open, jam packed full of rollers and the wind was up. Carl wasn’t feeling too good and Rob decided to stay quiet until Malmesbury.
Things didn’t go to plan as both Rob and Carl got into the early break, and with Darren Lill and CTM and Daikin represented the chase wasn’t at full force. The early part of the course was fast, with the wind and mostly flat. I tried to go across the gap but just didn’t make it. I rode a 54 blade and took maximum advantage of the downhill sections to put pressure on the pack. Relegated to the bunch my day was spent policing breaks and keeping things slow enough to let the break survive.
After Malmesbury we headed into the wind for 70km, with a lot of crosswinds and headwind, we rode in the gutter for most of the way back, the team worked well together and held everything together until the left turn with 30km to go. The break had 4 minutes and was ensured of survival. Team RSAWEB decided we’d had enough of being guttered and I took control of the front and lay down a huge gutter, burning up the 54 blade on the front and putting huge pressure on the riders behind who were now strung out in a solid line. The wind was now almost 90 degrees from the right and the road had no shoulder and was rough. Perfect for devastation. It wasn’t long before cracks emerged and a few kays down the road the pack was down from 50 t0 about 15, with small splintered groups behind. I was now wrecked but had saved three team mates who went on the attack almost immediately afterward, they formed a small group and took some time out of the remaining peloton. I dug deep to stay in contact with some riders ahead and formed a small group of about 6 and we pace lined it towards the finish.
Meanwhile up front Lill had powered away and left Rob and Carl to fight it out for 2nd place. They finished a minute after Darren and Rob took 2nd and Carl 5th. Then came Tredoux’s group and soon afterward our group approached – now re-joined by the guttered rabble. A lame sprint effort from me soon saw me sit back down and spectate for the minor placings.
This was a very very tough day in the saddle, the constant winds made it almost unbearable at times and to get such great results from the team is commendable.