With the Coronation Double Century done and dusted it is that time of the year again when you roll the dice and see what you have left in the legs for the Medihelp Stellenbosch Cycle Tour. On collecting our race packs we were given a lucky packet full of arts and crafts with two shirt numbers, a start card, chip boards, and number boards. Having learnt from previous editions of the race, we made sure to get a good position in the start chute to make sure we were not out the back before the start of the climb.
As the race tore onto Helshoogte, the first of the days Hell’s was unleashed on some of the riders’ legs. Others, like Will.I.Am who had started at the back of the group, enjoyed the challenge on the climb. We think he started at the back just to pick up 4th overall on the Helshoogte Strava segment. The group split into five groups on the climb with the 5th group not seeing the front of the race for the remainder of the event.
By the time the peloton rolled onto the R45 it was only the 4th group on the road that had not made contact. In this group, the Stevens brothers along with the chaps from Aurecon handed out some pace lining 101 spark notes to some of the riders and by the time they passed Val de Vie they had made it back to the Peloton. This is also when the race winning move by Giant broke away from the Peloton and were not seen again.
Photo credit: Full Gas Racing.
The pace in the peloton remained constant all the way to Wellington when it started to get strung up on the drag to into the town. This intensified on the run up to Windmeul with the snake behind the lead riders becoming longer and thinner. This is when a split formed as a group of 20 riders forged over the top of Windmeul.
An Alpha bodyworks rider suffered some terrible luck having a puncture at the four way stop in Wellington. This then led to that team having to lead the chase for those up ahead. After 5km of hammering on the front, the chase lost impetus and let the individuals take on the work at the front.
When the second of the day’s hell did arrived, the rain, which weather forecaster Kevin said would not arrive did arrive, it did so with vengeance. This allowed the cyclists of Cape Town who froth about the awesomeness of the spring classics to experience a modicum of the weather first hand.
As the peloton crested the last roller Will made a final dig and went off the front again into the darkness, only to be reeled in 3km later by the rolling cloud of mist with some bikes in it. As we passed the line of cones coming into Stellenbosch one of the We Do What We Want riders decided to tail whip one of the traffic cones, luckily coming off just a little paler!
The last corner onto Helshoogte road is interesting in the dry and when wet it seemed to turn into an ice rink. As soon as the peloton hit the ice rink a hand full of riders ended up on the deck with bikes and water bottles littering the corner. Luckily the Savages managed to avoid the carnage and with Waldo driving the pace, set off on the front over the top of the final ramp.
Having the group up the road did not stop people deploying their Cavendish sprint skills, this inevitably led to a few more bodies on the deck. The remainder of the group crossed the line safely although drenched to the bone four minutes behind the winner. However, the drama did not end at the line though as someone stopped to high five a little too early and caused the final accident for the morning.
Well done to Rohan du Ploy for the win in tough conditions and Liezel Jordaan taking the win in the ladies event. Congrats to everyone that toughed it out and finished the event on Sunday and to those that hit the deck, we hope you heal up fast and have hassle free dealings with your insurance companies.