The West Coast Express hosted by the Outriders Cycle Club always signals the start of the road season, only a flat and short route. This year was no different except for the wind, normally the famous South Easter has rolled into town by this time of year and gives your legs false out the start blocks down the R27.
However, this wasn’t the case on Sunday, a warm morning met the riders with a fresh North Wester blowing. The boys lined up in the A bunch and greeted a lot of the usual suspects in the group. No sooner had we all clipped in, changed into the big ring for the rest of the day and gotten up to speed a Chewowa ran into the road in a “le Tour” fashion. With this heart rate spike out the way we were onto the R27.
Etnard Louw and Jack van Wyk did not take long to take advantage of the block head wind, with their teams lining out the group on the R27 they were able to get off the front and very quickly built a two minute gap by the start of the Mamre climb. The cross winds wreaked havoc on the group here halving the group by the time we turned toward Atlantis. This was the opportune time for Theuns van de Bank to put in a massive attack solo off the group and reached the leading duo by the crest of the climb, now giving Hartlief a numerical advantage in the break.
As the raced turned South into the Atlantis complex the remnants of the bunch managed to keep the gap to the trio to below 2 minutes. This is when the race had its second wildlife encounter with a horse wondering into the road with riders barrelling down the road at 70km/h, luckily everyone was able to take avoiding action. Just before exiting the Atlantis complex Theuns attacked forcing Etnard to chase, this was an effort too much for the Mad Macs rider who had been off the front since the first 5 kilometres. After seeing that Etnard could not close the gap to his team mate, Jack dropped a 1094w watt bomb to bridge over to Theuns. The Hartlief duo hammered on adding a further 3 minutes to their lead in the closing 30km of the race.
Behind the race heated up heading to the N7 with Robby Rodrigues animating the bunch by attacking and splitting the remaining group with Rudie and his remaining Hartlief lieutenants driving the pace up the N7, by the crest of the N7 the bunch was thinned out to around 25 riders. The bunch strung out with the crosswinds and steamed back into Melkbostrand with attacks being neutralised by the lieutenants on the front of the group. The group came home with Rude Kellerman taking the sprint for third. Congrats to team Hartlief for the top 3 steps of the podium, a super strong showing!
The West Coast Express was a great kick off to the road season! A very well run event by the Outriders club again, thank you for hosting the event, we know how much admin it is to run an event!
There were many war stories overheard at the end, they basically all boiled down to explanations as to when their legs exploded in the wind, music to our ears. The results for the event can be found at racetec.co.za and the photos from the event can be found on the Outriders Facebook page.