Sunday served up another helping of pain and suffering at the hands of the elites, this one looked set for a sprint finish so Rob was our man here. The wind died out in the Paarl and Wellington areas so we set out towards Riebeek Kasteel at a nice high pace.
Early on there was a casualty as a rider hit a PPA Sign board, the loud metal bang sent waves through the pack as we scattered to avoid the carnage. Thankfully only the dozey rider who collected the metalwork was affected and racing resumed. All was going along at a gentle pace but I don’t like things too slow and decided to try soften up the climbers along the way to the pass. I had a few stabs at a break, one survived a km or two but I knew nothing would stick so I didn’t give everything.
The Lead up to the climb was slow, nobody wanted to do the work and only one lone escapee tried to get a head start on the pack. My job at the bas of the climb was to get Edward and Carl into position, i pulled them up through the pack and then sat on front at a steady tempo, enough to keep attacks at bay but not fast enough to hurt. Once the climb propper started I faded back. Carl came together with another rider in what looked like a pedal in the spokes, Carl got kicked out of the saddle but rescued it and rode on, I approached from behind to offer assistance and he got back into the fray.
Over the top I was off the back, there was a main pack and then scattered bodies all chasing. My extra gravitational pull and speed on the flats meant I caught the ones and twos on the way down and gathered them up behind me, i picked up Ivan soon enough and I soon had a team of guys about 15 strong. I was doing the major damage on the front and would pull off to recover enough to resume eating into the deficit. We averaged 55kmph for around 8km and managed to regroup with the main pack long enough to rest a little before Lill attacked at the left hand turn near Malmesbury, now into the wind and forcing a gutter. I bled.
I could just hang on long enough, actually lost touch a few times and had to dig deeper to close the gaps. More attacking ensued and we covered them as a team, Edward got into a decent sized break and we let him have some space and watched out for counter attackers. Soon enough the break was brought back and we rolled on through Paardeberg.
Going into Paardeberg road Rob asked me to hit the gutter, I was already taking strain and knew this effort would kill me for Windmeul – i had a suspicion this would be an attack point and I was right.
My gutter put some pressure into the pack but not so much on the major players, I had to chase as they countered the gutter and fell off the back early on the windmeul double roller. I pressed the pedals but the power wouldn’t come, I stood, I sat, big blade even but it would not get me in touch.
Onto the R44 I was alone, I sat in a TT zone and hoped for the bunch to slow or a passing truck to slipstream. Neither happened. I turns out the bunch only got faster. I rode a big gear and a lonely 20km home averaging a respectable 41kmph. i lost only 4 minutes to the bunch and still finished 3 minutes ahead of the SV winning time. It was a great day to be on a bike so I tried to enjoy it as much as possible.
I was bleak I count be there in the end for the team and to lead out Rob, Lill split the pack again and Carl went along for 4th place, Rob brought home the bunch sprint seconds later for 7th. Another active race for the team and the results will come eventually.