After a break from the bike I turned to some base mileage to keep the legs turning and slowly added intensity, I could push to a point and then falter…slowly the break point moved, but I had days where I’d feel great and days I felt like a 90 year old pedalling a zimmer frame.
I booked with the team to travel to Plettenberg Bay to lend a hand where I could. We arrived to the news that 15 MTN Qubeka Riders were on hand for the race and it was literally them vs RSAWEB’s 5, plus Kevin Evans who was on his own.
It goes without saying that we were in for it all day and attacking started in two’s and three’s from the end of the neutral zone. It wasn’t long before a small MTN group got away and we sat on the front chasing. I was glad in a way as the attacking stopped and we could set the pace up the 1st long climb. That suited me and I sat 2nd wheel. On top however more attacking came and i nearly lost touch with the main bunch after some heavy breathing on the climb had left me still trying to catch my breath. Edward had been in the early break but now MTN wanted it back to get an exclusive break away. They succeeded in getting 3 riders off, followed soon after by two more. We chased as the 5 MTN riders now combined and were now a serious threat and commanded RSAWEB to sit on the front for the next 60km!
The rolling flats of the middle section saw us in a 5 man TTT as we rested Edward for the climbs to come, Kevin sat with the rest of us and helped chase. we averaged 40-50kmph and still didn’t close the gap fully after coming close on a few occasions. I could ride the pace sustainably and was happy with my legs and steam rolled along doing all I could before we hit the final stretches with more climbing than I would like and knew it would be the end of the race for me. Through the toll booths on the way back and the descent into natures valley was imminent. More attacking came as riders fought for position.
I got into the right place as we dropped in and sat behind Kevin. He knew the roads as this is his back yard and I followed him. The turns were still dew wet in places and mossy. I put my trust in the pro ahead and followed blindly. We dropped the pack and had a small advantage going into the climb out. Ed, Jos, and Rob went away with the bunch, still chasing the break that was never caught.
I tempo’ed the climb and found a bunch of similarly stricken riders including a lone Arran Brown. We chatted and pulled the bunch home, where I completely cracked on the final rise and came in a lonely 24th place or so.
Edward had done very well and finished 8th among the MTN guys and followed closely by Jos in 12th, Rob in 15th and Peter in 18th. Overall it was a commendable showing by the Team RSAWEB boys and congratulated by the MTN director sportif. Job well done against heavy odds.