In the week leading up to Sportif 4 the banter on the WhatsApp group was pumping as we had entered most of the team in the event. Unfortunately it started to unravel on Saturday as Theunis found out he was needed at work on Sunday then, Kevin and Calvin came down with the sniffles on the morning, Will’s alarm clock didn’t go off and his toddler slept in therefore not waking him. We were down to only three Savages Klyde, Stephen and Brendon.
Spotif number four started at the Perdeberg Winery in Paarl just down the road from the Windmeul winery where sportif 3 took place. For some reason Brendon who had missed Sportif 2 due to injury, assumed that the route was going to be the 93 km route from Sportif 4 in reverse, this was a rather poor assumption.
Proceedings for the morning seemed to go much faster than in the past few events and before I could sort out my heart rate strap we had already covered 8 Km. With the major climb of the day looming at 38km, the group was not keen to do any major work. This led to the inevitable one or two riders rolling off the front only to be chased down almost immediately by the swollen bunch. On the approach to the climb it was the first time for Brendon to go and sit off the front and was soon joined by Kris and two other riders, but by the time the climb started in earnest bunch was back together. Normally the climb splinters the group but this Sunday the block headwind insured that the majority of the bunch rolled over together.
The pace was apparently not too sedate as Klyde and a few others found themselves off the back and chasing the bunch towards Hermon. There was even the life line in the form of a tandem for Klyde to wheel suck back to the group but like Blackberry, he droppped into obscurity!
This same tandem that had flown passed Klyde and caught the bunch was put on the front of the bunch while people scuffled over third wheel. While this was happening Brendon tried to rally up some takers for some breakaway attempts, the only one that was keen was Hennie, the youngster from the last event.
The next 30 km followed a very similar pattern, as the group slowed behind the tandem, Savage went off the front over the top and tried to create a gap, hoping to entice some companions along for some suffering. Then get caught by the Thomas and tandem led train. The group trundled along picking up the remnants of the league riders who were looking for shelter from the wind until the turn at Wellington.
This is when Brendon’s assumption that the race was 93km turns into comedy gold. On one of the longer rollers after the 4 way stop at 87km, Brendon decided that 6km should be do able from a break and rolls an apparently rigged dice. Although a fair gap was reached, there were not enough climbs and too much road to keep the group at bay. The final nail in the coffin for his break away would be when he passed the water point and thought it was strange to have a water point 500 meters from the finish.
The final few kilometers of racing was the first time in months we had felt the heat of summer while racing! The last few rollers saw one or two more shattered souls out the back of the group as we turned onto the run into the finish. The slight up hill drag served as a slow motion sprint, Savage of course lead opened up the sprint at 500m to go, only 400m too early! Racetec tells us Pete Nelson took line honors for the group. Kudos of the day goes to Thomas Hill for hammering on the front of the bunch relentlessly.
Another great event in the series by PPA, we enjoyed the course that suited Savage a little more with the climb not being too decisive. The groups rode well throughout the field and we heard of only one crash at this weeks race. The next PPA Sportif will be held in Stellenbosch and will be a different 98km loop with a climb near the start then some rollers. Perfect for a little pre DC ride for teams to get their final pacelines sorted out!