Being sponsored by MTN, the MTN OFM is quite an important race on the calendar for us. The goal was to win and nothing else.
This year the route was mixed up a little. We had the little short steep climbs in the final 25km instead, which provided the opportunity for strong rider to brake clear and it made for positive racing.
The race is renowned for its windy sections and almost every year it splits in the crosswinds. This year was no different as the bunch split twice, on both occasions we and Bonitas had full squads represented in the front, but lack of cohesion in the front group, caused it to come together both times.
But not before a little 4man break got away that contained Shaun Ward (HVAC), Jason Bakke (Bonitas), David Maree (Tasol) and Martin Wesemann (MTN Qhubeka). The Quartet quickly opened up a minute gap as we and Tasol were confident in the abilities of the men in front. Bonitas played roulette and it was clear that they would have to make a counter move later. In the meantime, the bunch was controlled by the likes of RSAweb and Mecer.
Bonitas move came with 20km on the short climb in Bloem as Hanco Kachelhoffer launched and attack. Myself and HB Kruger quickly followed as we distanced the rest the field. We combined well, but the pace was too much for HB as he drop back.
In the final 5km myself and Hanco joined up with the 4 leaders, as we hit a block headwind. Martin Wesemann and Jason Bakke kept the pace high ensuring we would stay away. I was quite nervous in the final km, as it was downhill and the previous day was a strong tailwind…In training we easily got up to 80km/h, so I fitted a 55T chain ring for the sprint, but now the wind was just as strong but completely from the opposite direction.
Jason Bakke lead it out, but purposefully stalled to create the hesitation needed for Hanco to win, but instead Maree came with a flyer 500m to go. He got a fair gap, but I managed to close it and pass him in the final 50m or so. Arran Brown managed to win the bunchsprint ahead of Herman Fouche. As per my tweet…you cannot get tired of the feeling of winning a race, and this was revenge for the last year, when I was the favourite but finished 3rd.
Unfortunately straight after the media prize giving I had to race back to JHB to catch my flight for African Continental Champs in Eritrea as part of the National team, so it wasn’t possible to attend the main prize giving. Even though we warned the race organiser at the manager’s meeting the day before, he did not want to make any compromise to his rules. “a rider needs to attend main prize giving, or all prizes will be void”. Also another defence was that I was a late entry into his race, which is totally untrue but also irrelevant. But anyway, this just shows the mentally of some race organisers in the country, and why Cycling in SA is in the state it is. On the bright side, my R5000 for first was donated to Qhubeka, a worthy cause in deed.
Keep reading my blog for an update on my time in Eritrea at African champs and sightseeing in Cairo.