The last thing I thought, when I recently returned to South Africa, is that I would be up at 3 in the morning leaving for a 160km Team Time Trial somewhere in the South of Joburg. Thank you Lincoln King.
Anyways, where to start.
Looking at the start list the morning, it was obvious that there were two teams to keep an eye on. Team Cyclepower and TEG Racing. However, there was one huge problem which no amount of experience can prepare you for. I noticed we only had one minute gaps between teams. On a professional level it seems like a lot, but at the same time for a 160km team time trial, it is next to nothing. During the race TEG Racing did exactly what I would have done. Go as hard as possible to catch the team one minute ahead of you and keep them at close range. We ran the same strategy with Team Cycle Power that started 1 minute ahead of us. We caught them about 55km in but at the same time more or less TEG Racing caught us.
So everything seems pretty logical from this point of view. However NOTHING IS EVER WHAT IT SEEMS TO BE. I knew we were pushing very hard to catch Team Cyclepower. So if TEG Racing caught us at the same time as we caught TCP, it means they must have put down the gauntlet and were dropping watt bombs of note. However, as the saying goes "die agter os kom ook in die kraal", and I knew they must have delved quite deep into their glycogen stores and they would be paying for that later on. As the situation stood on the road, all three top teams were together but virtually it meant that TEG Racing was leading, Cycle Nation 2nd virtually 1 minute behind the leaders and TCP IN 3rd virtually 2min behind TEG Racing.
So here is the dilemma and why I had a problem with the 1 minute time gaps. Not sure if you know but at high speeds if you are sitting 20 meters behind another team you still benefit from their slip as they have already broken the wind ahead for us. The higher the speed the higher the advantage.
That is why I knew we were going to have huge problems when we caught TCP, as the pace we were setting collectively was not sustainable and if we caught them and went straight past them they would benefit from the draft behind us (regardless if they were more than 10m behind us). I spoke with the team and because I already have a lot of experience in situations like this, after already won 5 Double Centuries in Swellendam. I had a long chat with the guys to not pass and even though the pace of all 3 teams significantly dropped, we were all checking each other out like a cat stuck in a chicken farm. I was confident that "patience would be key".
As we reached the turn around point at 82km, this is where bad preparation was our secret to success. I know that makes no sense but let me explain. I won't say names but someone forgot to fill up their water bottles with supplements at the turn around point. Because of that we lost 2 minutes and were now trailing 2 min behind TEG AND TCP. It's safe to say that some of us had a sense of humor failure.
We soon got going again and caught up to TEG Cycling. Call me what you want but as we caught them I could already see the lights were out by some of them. (Not that any of us were suffering any less) but I could see they were now starting to pay levies for their fast start. Wait did I mention that we were only 6 riders left with 75km to go? You have to finish with a minimum of 6 riders to qualify for any classification. No pressure at all, right.
We decided to pass TEG racing on a drag as we turned right so that when we pass, the drafting benefits would be significantly lower. We passed them "comfortably" with the brannas of the previous days kuier burning my eyes as it exited my sweat glands in the form of sweat into my eyes. Now it was our time to shine. Soon after we had TCP power on our radars and there was no escaping the Cyclenattors. With Brannas , sweat and class we soon reeled them in to seal the deal.
A massive thanks to our sponsors CycleNation & Sesha Fuels for making this collaboration possible. People often don't see the value that these people bring to our sport and it is extremely frustrating (as I have witnessed it first hand) what the consequences are.
Finding a Team is one story- but making that team grow is the responsibility of riders and not just a sponsor. Hope to see you all at the Smurfy 500. Come have some fun!! It is for a great cause. Until next time.
Willie Smurfy Smit