On Sunday I returned to winning ways in the short and sweet Lady Loch loop road league race, with only 56km to cover on an open undulating circuit it was going to be a hard a fast pace.
The opening lap was a cautious one, with narrow roads and cool conditions I took it easy and followed near the back of the pack. I knew it would soon ramp up into an all out affair and I took my time to warm up. The course had an opening pair of rollers and then a downhill/flat zone that transitioned you into the final pair of bigger steeper rollers. They weren’t long but enough to have a dig.
On the opening lap at the second set the fireworks began, a lone rider escaped and was quickly joined by a few more, I was pleased to see three of my team mates in the mix and I hung back. As we hit the home stretch the cycle lab guys fired off the front eager to join the action, I followed wheels and eventually things all came back together before the descent into lap two’s start. I hit the 11t and sailed off the front, glancing back I could see the chase was hot on my heels and slowed to a sustainable tempo. I went again just before the left turn into lap two and opened a gap on the bend, I accelerated out and a few strong men jumped across to form a small break. We rolled it along up the first roller and down into the second, the chase was on and I went into recovery mode. The following roller was hit quite hard and the chasing bunch had been on the rivet for some time already and the bunches merged just before the crest and into the blinding sunrise. I hit again as the pack slowed right down, masked by the sun and on the narrow roads only two riders could respond and I was shortly joined by a fourth who came across in time. I drove open a gap and found myself in the company of all significant teams in the league.
With one rider from each team I knew we had a chance to gain time, we rolled together and I gave it maximum to make sure it stuck. the chase dulled and the teams behind policed the break seemingly happy with its composition. I was happy too as the fast finish suited my sprint, the only thing was to damage control the rollers and make sure I didn’t take too much heat on the steepest slopes. We rolled evenly for a full lap and worked to open a gap over just over a minute in a lap, by lap three it wasn’t much bigger, so I upped my work rate again. This time round on the steepest roller on the back end of the circuit we dropped the Moore Stephens rider leaving only Pieter Calitz (Cycle Lab) and Shaun Roos (Craft Cycle Lab) and I. I knew we’d be chased now by one significant team and we kept our pace high. The rollers hurt but I maintained a steady pace and made sure I was out of the wind up any hills. I surged on the descents and crushed the flats, by the final lap we had 3min50sec to play with.
I knew instinctively that the rollers is where the other two needed to attack me and I prepared myself mentally, and sure enough they came. Pieter started with a full assault in the big blade, soon followed by Shaun, I followed and knew I had to stay in contact. I held their wheels and had survived the attacks, now they needed to attack me more on the flats, but each time I could follow, I countered with my own attack and they quickly followed too…
It was cat and mouse and we had acres of time, we slowed almost to a track stand searching for advantage, concentration lapse or weakness. We rolled on. At 3km to go there was only descent left, my kinda terrain and I hit hard over the crest forcing a lengthy chase, I rested as they caught up, I went again after some more horse play, this time longer and with more gap to close.. 1km to go I tried again and still they followed. I waited until 400 to go and knew I needed to go first and not get jumped, I slowed right down and then jumped as hard as I could, I clicked through the gears and found the 11t. My legs ached and tired, I dug deeper, after seeing Shaun’s shadow still on my right I kept going until I knew he could not come around.
It’s been a long time since my last win and I’d almost forgotten the satisfaction, what a great rush of emotions. I LOVE IT