4 weeks passes so quickly! After Epic it felt like such a long time before the first race, time fly’s and 4 weeks later on Saturday we raced again. I was not very keen on going due to the long travel to Clarens and it being on high altitude again, not my cup of tea! Also I had some bad memories from last year’s race when I fell off a bridge and hurt myself a bit…. In hindsight I am very happy that I went!
It was nice to see Robyn again but unfortunately her shoulder was not so good after Epic. It was 4 degrees when we started the race, freezing cold and they predicted rain later in the day. We started slowly and stuck together until about the 20km mark, there was a lot of pushing to get a good position for the singletrack. Unfortunately I was a bit too far back (5th) when we entered the singletrack which was to be the decisive one… It turned out to be an uphill single track and Ariane was first and opened up a gap to Cherise, she then opened a gap to Candice and I was sitting behind her and Vera, I felt that I could have gone a bit faster but there were no place to pass. Eventually at the top Vera and I could pass Candice and then eventually also Cherise, but Ariane already had 30-60 seconds… We soon came on to a long (20km) open gravel road and I had Cherise and Vera with me. Since Cherise is team mate with Ariane she pulled some road tactics and did not help at all so Vera and I did all the work. At the 51km WP we were 1.20 behind Ariane and we also lost Vera at that point. Cherise and I rode up the last climb together but she had a little more energy by the top and got away from me. I never managed to close the gap on the 10km single track to the finish so got a 3rd place on the day.
Of course I would have wanted to finish 2nd but I am still very happy with how I felt, this is probably the best feeling I have had at altitude ever, so maybe my little training camp in Dullstroom a few months ago helped. I am also happy with how the form is post-Epic, and my accident bridge from last year was taken out of the course;) So all in all I am happy with the race!
Unfortunately Robyn had to pull out due to her shoulder…
After the race we spent some time with Nimue and Solal, some of our co-sponsors, who were there to promote their brands.
I am still in Johannesburg since we have some sponsors activities tomorrow and I must say that I was positively surprised when I rode with Robyn and Dave yesterday, that there are so many gravel roads and single tracks one can ride here in Johannesburg, maybe not such a bad place to be after all…? But, no, I still like Stellenbosch more;)
Podium with Yolandi 5th, me 3rd, Ariane 1st, Cherise 2nd and Vera 4th.
With our sponsors Nimue and Solal