The weather gods had smiled upon Cape Town for this years edition of the 110km race, calm warm with a slight SE wind. Gentle headwind on the way out and tailwind home. This should be fast!
I was feeling good and rode a short warm-up before lining up in the start chute. The start was still a touch dark but we set off at a blistering pace up eastern boulevard. The bunch was huge, all of the the elites, including many pro team from JHB, as well as two guest riders from Omega Pharma Quickstep pro team. I was mid pack and wanted to move up the field, and took some places down hospital bend. Shortly after that the front riders hit the brakes and send a wave of panic through the bunch, I got closed in and touched a riders wheel in front of me and went down. I was up in a flash as riders crashed all around me, I didn’t even look back to see the carnage, checked my bike for 5 secs and jumped on to chase. I had issues though, the rear brakes were rubbing which I only found out later, and my derailer hanger was bent causing all sorts of trouble with my gearing. I couldn’t risk putting it into the 25 any more for fear of the limit being moved and the derailer catching the spokes, I adjusted the barrel adjuster and made do with what I could. I chased from the Windmill until the base of Edinburgh Drive where I latched onto the back, took two deep breaths and began the climb. I had already done a 10 minute interval in chasing and the climb spat me off the back just about 3/4 way up. I chased again. My descending technique and aero position saw me catch the bunch again at the bottom of Wynberg hill, just in time to recover on the fast blue route highway. it was then that I released my brakes from my rear wheel.
The pack was incredibly skittish, a lot of unnecessary braking sent further shock waves into the peloton. I rode as if on high alert and tried my best to fight for a good position to avoid further danger. The next task was Boyes drive. The short steep beginning was a taste but I held on well to cope with its longer slopes and went over well placed. On then to Smitswinkel and again I made sure I was well placed to survive the gradient change. I fell a little short but made up the ground quickly on the top to rejoin the long strung out paceline. I made my way forwards and rested again.
The way through Misty Cliffs and over Ocean View drive was only mildly painful but another crash just behind me on the fast 45kmph stretch after Imhoffs Gift brought me back to my senses and I tightened my grip on the bars. I knew Chapmans Peak was looming and I needed to secure a better place in the pack. I made my way up to about 5th or 6th wheel by the time we hit the bottom of Little Chapmans, I fought hard and went over well, only losing a few meters on the front end, I started well placed and fighting hard on the major climb, as the pace hotted up though the gaps started to open. perhaps I had done too much already in chasing back, but I slipped off the bunch and didn’t remain in close enough contact to even effect a chase on the descent. I found a group of fellow bus drivers and set about work in damage control.
I paced a lot on the descent and left the uphill pace making to someone else, we worked hard but well together and ended up dropping a few of the initial bunch and caught a bunch of guys up the road near 12 Apostles. The larger bunch gave me time to breathe and I rotated along with the rest of the men. In the end we sprinted for the glory of 87th place and I was 2nd to give me 88th overall for the race 🙂 We’d only lost 5min to the leaders and all things considered I was happy to have made it home in one piece. Next year… I’ll try again.