After heading straight home from the Cape Pioneer Trek, I went into this fast race pretty fatigued, luckily I was coming into form and this saved me big time.
The weather was typical for the west coast, windy. The morning was a bit chilly, but once we were out of the gate it was warm enough. The opening kays were flat out with the wind, it wasn’t too hard to hang in the bunch and I welcomed the chance to warm up as I knew it would take my legs some time to flush and warm up. Shortly before the climb I surged off the front to wake up the legs. I was quickly chased down, so I sat in and waited for the bump in the road.
I knew it would be a tough section and I positioned myself well in the bunch to begin with but quickly found myself slipping through the cracks and a little bit later I was off the back. The bump plateaus and rides a false flat with a gutter wind for about 5km after the summit and I was alone fighting the wind, not ideal, while the others including my nearest rival were gunning it off the front. I chased and enlisted others, we got out of the gutter and rolled through.
Rob was ahead and he looked back to see me chasing, he eased back and got involved with the chase, not long thereafter we caught the two Jacques Van Zyls also going it alone. Slowly I racked up a bit of a team and we rolled through hard to make back the ground on the leading peloton. I was lighting matches on the front putting in big digs to close the ground on the main field and we were gaining. After a 10 minute chase we’d made it onto the back of the train, just after the right turn into Atlantis CBD.
I sat in and recovered, but knew I was on the back foot now that the chase was over. My team mates were still going strong though and Robbie was lighting it up attacking at every given opportunity. Still we rolled on at pace with plenty of fresh riders both attacking and giving chase. Most efforts were quickly nullified and I realized that the energy was being wasted. I sat on and advised another few team mates to do the same. With the wind through the town streets we flew as if being unleashed and a long string of riders wound its way back onto the west coast road and headed back to the finish.
With 30km to go we were idling along and riders must have lapsed their concentration, came together and crashed about 10m in front of me. I was fortunate enough to be able to swerve but Steven was not and rode smack into it coming down quite hard. Later I heard that ex-team mate Clive had unfortunately broken a collarbone. I chased back into the pack and we rode on to the finish. We planned an attack but in the end it was a safer bet to go to the line in a sprint.
The finish was moved a circle Early and came up rather unexpectedly, JP was doing a fine job and took the lead and I found his wheel but slipped in from the wrong side and was still exposed as we hit 500m. The sprint unfolded and I was caught on the wrong side and had to go up in the wind, Moolman had the best slip from JP who was still steaming ahead and rounded him in the last 50m. Robbie came up the inside line too and got 4th and I was 5th.
In the end we got a great team and individual result out of what could have been disaster. Well done to the team for a good effort and we’ll go forward with the points from here 🙂