Cyclo Cross 55km
A new edition to the tour Durban was the cyclo cross (CX) event which replaced the popular MTB race usually held over the same weekend. Issues with land access and a land owner Tongaat Hullets not wanting the race on their property shifted the organisers to make a last minute edition to the event and so the cyclo cross event was grown.
My expectations of my own race weren’t the greatest as I was recovering from tick bite fever which I had picked up whilst on the Wild Coast. This had put me off the bike for a week and missed out on the Karkloof race. Even though I was the previous winner of the MTB event I still wasn’t sure how my body would respond on the CX race. I had to wait and see as the race unfolded.
The CX race started at the same start and finish area as the road race and headed out on the M4 for 19km until the route took a turn in the sugar cane and followed some great fast paced dirt roads and single track before being diverted back on the tar once more. This pattern repeated itself 3 times and then headed back home on the tar to the finish for a total of 55km.
The decision was made on which bike to ride last minute, up to this point the option between the road bike with cx tires or a normal MTB with fast paced/low rolling resistance tyres. I opted for the MTB and the later choice on tyres. I was very lucky in the end as a cyclo cross/road bike would have been disastrous in the soft sand and rocky sections of the route.
The start was quite leisurely until Rourke myself and Tyron went to the front and picked the pace up, luckily the 105km road race groups were joining the same road section route as us and we jumped into the group and added some serious speed to the group with us the three final podium contenders mixing it up with the road racers for about 20km.The fist section of off-road was sandy and soft and the hard tyres weren’t conducive to great grip. But we were all in the same boat and as we hit the harder district road the group was strung out into a long line by Rourke and me. The first real climb on the race was in the sugar cane and this was where the three of us got away. It was here where we kicked hard and left the chasing riders to fight to catch back on.
We didn’t see the rest of the guys again until the finish line. The race to the line was always going to be fast and hard and I had to try something special in order to get away from Rourke on a flat road. The only thing left to do would be for me to try and pick up pace up so much that he couldn’t come round me for a sprint finish with his 1×10 gearing I though he’d be limited but in the last 5m he just came round to pip me on the line. All in all I was very happy with the result considering my illness the week before.
1st Rourke Croeser
2nd Andrew Hill
3rd Tyron Bird