I haven’t updated since emperor’s palace with the pics of the crash I had there. Since then we had a 5 day Training camp in Nelspruit, and Arran Brown won the Dischem Ride for Sight (you can read the report on his blog http://arranbrown.wordpress.com/)
It was nice racing on Saturday for a change at the Berge en Dale this weekend. It frees the weekend a bit, which give us a bit of time to socialize on saturdays. However it was still a 6am start and only the distance was only 100km. Its kind of frustrating as everyone always complains about it, but it never changes… Anyway the route is relatively tough….starting up Krugersdorp Hill, up Robert Broom, down Sterkfontein, around the back of Tarlton, past Maropeng and finally a lap of the cradle, with the finish on the uphill drag on the N14. Such a route and finish suits me quite well.
The race started off really fast with Bonitas trying to reduce the field from the outset. It was however early days and with all riders being fresh, their impact was only limited. A lot of moves tried to get clear and after 20km, myself and teammate, Brad Potgieter found ourselves in a 7man group racing off the front. The other riders where Darren Lill, Johann Rabie (Bonitas), Pieter Seyffert (Westvaal-BMC), Dawit Haille (UCI Africa academy) and Nolan Hoffmann (Tasol). It was a strong group, but being far to go to the finish, no one really put their backs into it. We only got a 30s gap which we held for around 25kms, as Toyota-CSA brought it back.
The attacks continued all the way, but no other move was able to get any advantage. Through the cradle the pace increased once again and on each hill the bunch would split and regroup as more and more guys were eliminated, but once again no one could gain any real advantage and a bunch sprint was inevitable. To my surprise the bunch was still rather large (around 40-50 riders) as we approached the final drag up to the finish.
The slight uphill claimed a lot of riders as the bunch completely disintegrated. My team did an excellent in controlling the attacks and Dennis van Niekerk did a good job as final leadout man. The final was like a pure drag race as Herman Fouche (Bonitas) and I were neck and neck, but I managed to pip him in the final few meters.
Berge en Dale was my first race win as an elite, when I beat Daryll Impey to the line, riding for Barloworld in those days. It brought nice memories back to win it again.