62km, 1000m climbing 2hr25min
The Illovo Eston MTB race has in the past been referred to as the largest one day MTB race in South Africa, and its not difficult to see why the numbers are so great. The event runs like clockwork and has to with over 4000 competitors arriving on the day.
The 2014 edition was somewhat different from the previous years running as the route had been dramatically changed for the better. The route which usually started through the rolling cane fields and gradual climbs had been turned on its head and we now started the race up a fairly direct climb into a grassland single track and then through some farm lands. The fast start was great and I found myself in the lead group going through the King of the Mountains hot spot which usually splits the field early into the race.
The pace settled until about 15km in where Brendan Davids and I tried to make a break we then settled again and were caught up by the group behind consisting of Rourke, Max, Stuart and Travis. At this stage I was confident I could sit in with the break if it went. Not long after that Brendan and Rourke went again and I lead the chase to close the gap, the gap began to close and as we hit a section of gum trees single track I turned right instead of continuing straight and lost the back of the leading two. By the time I had turned around and got back into the race I had been passed by 3 riders and was now chasing hard to bridge to gap I had worked so hard to achieve. I managed to close down Stuart and Travis after about 20 minutes of hard riding but had put myself into some serious physical deficit in doing so.
I knew the last 15km were rolling farm roads and a group of riders was always going to be quicker then a solo rider but because Travis and Stuart both were supporting Rourke as team mates I had to try something and make a break from them coming into the finish. The final 15km was a time trial effort for me trying to stay away from the two team members behind me.
1st Rourke Courser (KARGO)
2nd Brendan Davids (TREK)
3rd Max Knox (FEDGROUP)
4th Andrew Hill (TIB INSURANCE)
5th Travis Walker (KARGO)