275km: 7th place, climbing: 5250m
Pictures: Zooncronje© & OakPics©
Andrew Hill writes:
The first big stage race of the year was a new one for me in the Ceres Area of the Western Cape. The event has been around for a few years but this year the race stepped up a notch to become a premier event attracting all the professional teams including European and American teams hoping for a podium at the Epic next month.
The pace was seriously hot from day one and was spurred on by the R50 000 prize money for first team across the line. Day 1 was just shy of 90 km with some tough climbing towards the end of the stgae when the legs were feeling the affect of the fast paced first 50km.
Ty White and I settled into a good pace and raced into a very credible 7th place overall on the opening stage. I’ve decieded to make this report more visual as the scenery was something I wish I could explain and discribe.
Stage 2 was the queen stage and held a sizeable climb that climbed in excess of 1000m in 14km up the Merino Monster. The climb was something out of a tour de France stage and we started with finishing well in mind. The initial kick at 50km was a true tester of things to come later in the stage and we pushed hard to settle into our own pace up the biggest and steepest part of the climb. We managed to maintain our position overall and crossed the line just a couple of minutes behind the winning team after a very fast and rough decent to the race village.
Stage 3 was the fun stage and consisted of many kilometres of amazing single track hand built through some spectacular terrain. The rough and rocky landscape was punctuated with snaking hand crafted trails and bridges. This put some serious smiles on the faces of many riders who had battled through the past two days of hard and at some points’ torturous climbs. The reward was well received and had many people chatting about the journey they’d travelled over the past 3 days.
Our race came to a successful close as we crossed the line in 6th place to finish comfortably in 7th place overall on general classification.