This new race on the calendar was quite exciting, a new course and route and some decent distance to race was looking good. The weather was absolutely perfect and The team was feeling good.
The first 15km were to serve as a warm up until we hit the Hels Hoogte climb, but as I cruised along the smooth tarmac I was feeling good and had a dig, I opened a gap and was chased down, I went again and held it longer trying to make sure I was warm before the climb. Surprisingly a group of about 8 of went clear and as I looked back I realised we were being allowed some freedom.
The break included all the main teams and we set about growing the gap before the climb. We had around 2 minutes at the base and set about the climb, the riders setting a steady hard pace that was just about my limit. Slowly riders couldn’t hold on and one by one they fell back off the break leaving only four of us to descend and head to Paarl.
We had some decent flat fire power in myself and Luke again, Neil Swarts and Andy. We rolled through and worked well and held our advantage all the way through Paarl and over past the Fairview wine farm, onto the R44 and outwards Wellington. We turned left onto Voor Paardeberg road and through the rollers there. Thats where we had our first casualty, Andy got dropped and we were down to three by Grand Prix hill.
At the crest of the hill Luke popped a spoke in his rear wheel and we slowed to see if he’d fix or be relieved it if it rectified itself. It didn’t and he’d have to stop. We looked back and our break had withered down to just a few seconds. Luke stopped to repair and rejoined the chasing bunch, neil and I pressed on to the top of the last roller and eased up as we got swallowed.
The catch was not a full peloton, and we pressed on to keep the secondary break the same size of around 30 guys. I sat in a bit and rested, chatted to my team mates in the pack and decided on a new course of action. We turned left onto the R304 and into a head wind that hit slightly from the left. A few breaks went and came back, then team Aurecon put everyone in the gutter. Jacques and I took a few hard long pulls in the gutter and shelled a couple of riders, but the main contenders remained.
it was then back to back attacking, my legs were recovering fast and I launched attack after attack, I forced a lot of riders to close gaps and got them to burn matches, but I was burning mine too and I attacked maybe three times too many. John Wakefield countered and Neil Swarts went on his wheel. Our team now had to chase and the guys were already tired and still trying to protect Clive.
For the final 5km We couldn’t close John’s perfectly timed move and even though I buried myself to get within 5 seconds for points it wasn’t enough. I dropped Clive off at the base of the uphill sprint way too early, but he was strong enough to hold onto a long sprint for third place.
A small mistake cost us the race but our team had done well and salvaged a podium. I was pleased with my legs on the day, but disappointed in my lack of patience. Another lesson learned.