MTN-Qhubeka’s Arran Brown won the Lost City Race that took place on Saturday 20 August, outsprinting Nolan Hoffman over the last kilometre to take the victory. Dusty Day (Matlosana) finished third.
Brown viewed the race as an opportunity to make up for the previous weekend’s racing event, where he lost out on the win in the final 500metres of the race. He achieved his goal, despite a challenging race riddled with mechanical problems.
Brown said. “Our strategy going into the race was again to keep the other teams under pressure for the duration of the race. Unfortunately everything started to go haywire for me after 40 kilometres of racing. First I punctured a tyre. Luckily, I managed to chase back to the bunch after fixing the puncture.
“But that was not the end of my bad luck. The back wheel of my bicycle started to act up, which meant that I had to stop again to get a wheel change. Again I caught up with the bunch.
“I now understand why they say that bad things happen in three’s – just when I got back into a comfortable rhythm, my bike’s front derailleur got loose and dropped into the chain ring. This meant another stop.”
Brown noted that MTN-Qhubeka team mechanic Rian Gouws deserves credit for the way he maintained his cool throughout the set-backs and for getting the repairs done as efficiently as possible.
Playing catch-up all the time took its toll on Brown’s legs. “After chasing down the bunch for a third time, I told my teammates that I was finished and that we had to switch to Plan B. This meant that they had to work for Reinardt Janse van Rensburg in the sprint to the line.
“I just rode at the back of the bunch, eating and drinking as much as my body allowed me to. Then, to my surprise, I could feel the strength returning to my legs. I was even able to go with one or two of the attacks, so I rode up to my teammates and told them that there was another change of plan. I felt strong enough to contest the sprint.”
According to Brown, Team Tasol started to take control during the last two kilometres to make sure that Hoffman was in a favourable position for the sprint to the line. MTN-Qhubeka’s Martin Wesemann was ready, however, and upset their well-laid plans when he jump-started the MTN Qhubeka ‘train’ into action.
“Martin was so strong that he pulled us right to the front,” said Brown. “This caused some chaos among the riders of the other teams and for a second or two they didn’t know what to do. Unfortunately Tyler Day (Bonitas) crashed during the confusion.
“My teammate Dennis van Niekerk was the next rider who went to the front to set the pace and after him it was Bradley Potgieter’s turn. With about 200 metres to go, it was the perfect time for me to be launched with a clean sprint to the line. Reinardt was right on my back wheel to protect me and to take over the sprinting responsibilities if something should go wrong. Luckily nothing did.
“Winning like this was really special. My teammates and I have been practicing for six months to set up this ‘sprint train’ and this was the first time that everything worked to perfection.”
Unfortunately, the MTN-Qhubeka women’s team missed out on the win, despite An-Li Pretorius outsprinting Cherise Taylor (USN) to the line in first place.
After the race, Taylor was awarded the win as it was decided that Pretorius had changed her racing line in the final dash to the finish line. Pretorius was announced as having finished in fifth place.
Despite her disappointment, Pretorius showed true sportsmanship in the way she handled the events. Although surprised by the decision, she promised to go into future sprints with more confidence, having proved to herself that she has what it takes to win.
She explained that her decision to change her racing line was made to avoid a crash. “The last few kilometres of our women’s race were quite chaotic,” she said. “There were two crashes and I really had to keep my wits about me to avoid crashing myself. While sprinting at about 60 kilometres an hour to the line, I became aware of some amateur riders in the middle of the road and right in front of me. I had to make a hasty decision. If I kept on riding in a straight line I would have crashed into them. I therefore had no other choice than to go left.”
She added that while she may not be the official winner, she knows she has the ability to win and that means a lot to her and her MTN-Qhubeka teammates.