Well that happened. Second again. But contrary to popular believe actually the odds were more in my favor compared to 2017 even though I was a good 6kg over Tour weight. P.S I was over 110km pulling in the breakaway when I was caught by the whole Didata team. But still managed to finish on the podium. Turns out riding with your brains and not just your legs work quite well.
You might think what Am I blabbling on about but in 2017 we had our work cut out with a Strong WorldTour team present. Six of their world tour riders and riders from their continental team present. After being more than 100km infront and being caught by the whole DiData team & finish on the podium was like a win for me. But back then things were quite different. I completely skipped the usual December break and continued training for Nationals. To be honest it's a period in my life I adopted a lifestyle which would probably not be considered extremely healthy, just for nationals. I must have probably been a nightmare to live with for my wife.
I finished 2nd to Daryl Impey and infront & infront of the whole Didata team . Once again. I took that as a win. The irony is that this year I came with only some base in the legs and it was atleast good enough to not walk away with nothing. The support crew behind me from Bicycle Garage & my best mate in the car was enough motivation to pull something off. Tactically I truly did not expect Nic Dlamini to sit up & scream to Marc go go go...I was a bit boxed in and by the time I realised what was happening it was to late. To say the least, well played Nic. That's how you set up your mate for the win.
The racing was quick the first 50km so it played into my style of riding. With the heat factored in all riders legs would get depleted exponentially. Infact what the actual F.... Just before the start I sat under a tree with an ice pack in my back. I was staring at all these guys chatting away before the start. Talking to their buddies standing in the 30 degree heat as much as 45min before the start. Not sure what some were thinking but I wouldn't want my core temperature to rise that much before the start. Especially when most South Africans train early mornings and aren't heat adapted...oh well. Deja Vu again because the riders did the same at the 2017 national championships. I remember it clearly as I was still sitting in our RoadCover Team Vito looking at all the riders on the start line. Infact the start was delayed and most just kept standing their chatting in the heat. We were keeping our core tempreture as low as possible with an ice pack in and aircon on.
And finally let this Nationals be a lesson to us all. Pitching up with arrogance at a bike race doesn't pay off. Now that I think of it I've actually never underestimated any of the riders I race with. You just never know when your opponents might be on a killer of a day & you might be on a terrible day. Know your opponents, get under their skin and most importantly of all, race the race. Never the rider.
Passion for cycling is what drives us. The most potent dopamine is released in the buildup and hunt. Enjoy that. Take it all in. Those are the experiences and time that matters. Not the quick race ceremony that is quickly forgotten by all.