This weekend saw the first leg of the MTN Ultra Marathon series taking place in Oudtshoorn. Going into its 4th year, the Attakwas is no doubt a fitting start to this series. Word on the street is that this 137km race which is extremely technical is the hardest one day offroad event in the country.
Conditions on the morning were perfect, and a record number of entries saw batches leaving from the Chandelier Game farm, to start the first part of the race in the reserve. There was star studded field with a couple guys eager to turn the pace up from the beginning.
As expected, Burry Stander (Specialized) waited for exactly the right moment to make his move. He timed his attack to perfection. The moment he came to the 4×4 jeep trail, Stander accelerated. Only Evans, David George (Fullimput) and Max Knox (DCM) could stay with him. Unfortunately, Knox punctured early and from then on he had to play catch up.
“As we hit the hardest climb on the trail, Burry and I opened up a gap on David, and then further extended our lead when we hit the technical descent on the other side. Things were looking good and I was sure that Burry and I could work together once we were on the open roads. Unfortunately for Burry, he had a puncture only about 500 meters from the end of the roughest part of the trail,” Evans explained.
“This left me out on my own, with a slight headwind, 60km of rolling roads, a chasing bunch behind me and nobody to talk to. I had timed the gap between me and David George, who was chasing by himself. He was clearly putting in a huge effort to catch me as quickly as he could.“It did not bother me. I knew what still lay ahead and was not prepared to be caught in a cat and mouse game. I just made sure that I kept as much energy as possible in reserve for the tough final 15 km. I don’t think David took that into account because he kept on closing in on me all the time. Just before the last two hard climbs, David had me down to a gap of only 40 seconds. I used the last of my saved energy and really powered up the climb to see if David had any stamina left. I managed to drop David and to open a gap of close to 5 minutes between ourselves over the final 10 km.”
Knox finished strongly in 3rd.
Unfortunately Burry Stander suffered 3 punctures that effictively put him out of contention. “It is not as if I will go away empty-handed from the race. I learned a very important lesson and that is that when you race in the Western Cape you have to use a slightly heavier tyre, otherwise punctures will make your life hell. Luckily for me, Specialized has developed a new slightly heavier tyre which I will use when racing in the Cape Epic.” Stander explains.
In the ladies race, Yolandé Speedy (MTN-Energade) totally dominated. She finished 19th overall, more than 35 minutes ahead of her nearest rival, and left nearly 300 male riders in her wake.
1. Kevin Evans (MTN Energade) 5hrs43min
2. David George (Fullimput Clothing) 5hrs48min
3. Max Knox (DCM)
1. Yolande Speedy (MTN Energade)
2. Ischen Stopforth (Bizz Hub)
Check out www.mtncycling.co.za for full results.
Photo Courtesy Zoon Cronje