The Karoo to Coast start line this year was stacked. When I rolled to the start line on Sunday, sans warm up, and took a look at the front row I was a little worried that I might not crack the top 10. Never mind the 4500 other riders all waiting in their start shoots! Never the less we were treated to a peach of a day with super dry conditions, a bearable minimum, and a low 20’s maximum.
With two strong teams in this years race, RE:CM (Erik Kleinhans, Lourens Luus, Nico Bell, and Cannondale/Blend(Darren Lill, Waylon Woolcock) and privateers like James Reid, Kevin Evans and Matt Beers, it went pretty predictably. The teams did all the work chasing down attacks, and us privateers took a few risky moves here and there, but up and down the first 3 climbs, no one could make anything stick. Even I had a little solo attempt off the front. But weighing less than 60kg I soon realised that 60km was far to ride on my own into a headwind with 8 strong riders hunting you. I backed off.
Just when everyone seemed pretty content that no one was going to get away, Erik, on a downhill made a high speed getaway. There were 45kms to go and it was mostly downhill, it wasn’t going to stick, and no one chased. In the back of my mind I knew that if there was one guy in the group who could make it stick, it was Erik. With 25km to go there was no Erik. The pace lifted. With 20km to go, still no sign, and so the pace lifted. 15km, still no Erik!
The 8 man chase group hit the bottom of Gouna, the last climb of the day and turned into a flat out hillclimb time trial. We lost 3 riders on the way up, but most stuck together, with me surprisingly putting in an attack and holding the group rather comfortably. Still no Erik! With 2km to go we heard he was 20 seconds ahead, but when the group split up due to one of us slipping a wheel up an embankment, any team effort was down the drain and it became a free for all sprint into a rather stiff headwind to the finish. Needless to say I finished at the back of this chase group. I hate headwinds!
So Erik held on for a well deserved and gutsy win ahead on Waylon Woolcock and Kevin Evans respectively. Erik has never won this race before, so I’m sure happy for such a honest, hard working and friendly guy to take the win over some big names. As for me, I guess I’ll have to try again next year!
Instead of heading home in a rush I spent a couple days hanging out in Knsyna with family, got some rides, in, as well as a sneaky little surf! A big thanks must also go to Imperial Select Tokai for getting me there and back in style. Epic car!
Keep it runner side down,