Clarens Club100 Training Camp

Arran Brown and myself were invited to join the Club100 Clarens Training Camp to represent the MTN/Qhubeka Professional Cycling Team. We were both looking forward to the weekend and it was no let down, we really enjoyed ourselves and had plenty of fun.

We arrived on the Friday and the turn out for this camp was incredible. Riding and spending time with the club was a pleasurable experience, we shared many laughs and interesting conversations.

I was taken aback by how much the club supported our MTN/Qhubeka Team and all of our bold goals for the future. Spending the weekend with these riders made me feel rather special and I was reminded of what an amazing sport cycling is.

Thank you to all who attended this camp for making it such an enjoyable weekend! I’m already looking forward to the next one!

Clarens Club100 Training Camp

Success at Dome2Dome

The team had a successful race at the Dome2Dome Classic on Sunday with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg taking the win.

It all started with the usual early morning start, waking up at 4am to get to the race which started at 06:15. The Dome2Dome route is a challenging one, going up Maropeng, around the Cradle and finishing at the top of Sterkfontein. The team had done a pre-race ride during the week to discuss the plans and to make sure everyone had the right knowledge of the route.

The race started out fast with many attacks being launched all the way up Maropeng. I managed to slip away just after Maropeng and established the first real gap on the bunch. A few riders came across before and in the Cradle including two of my team mates, Arran Brown and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg. We knew Reinardt was riding strong as he is preparing for the World Championships, so Arran and I took the responsibility to keep the break’s momentum up and save Reinardt as much as possible for the finish. Reinardt still had a big kick at the finish and managed to sprint Hanco Kachelhoffer and William Bush who were 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The team is really happy and enjoying their riding. We all motivate each other which makes being a part of this team a real pleasure!

The Tour of the Freestate with a Polka Dot Surprise

Tour of the Freestate
The Tour of the Freestate was a new race on the calendar for 2011. The team had discussed the tour and came up with a few goals and a plan to achieve these goals.
The majority of the stages were fast and flowing with the exception of the tour deciding stage 3 that finished in Golden gate up a climb with gradients reaching up to 30%. Knowledge of this final climb was essential to a tour winning result. This stage decided the General Classification with Johann Rabie (Bonitas) in the leaders orange jersey, Darren Lill(Bonitas) in 2nd and Dennis van Niekerk(MTN/Qhubeka) in 3rd.
Stage 2 of the tour, a 120km route from Bethlehem/Fouriesburg/Clarens/Bethlehem was the most rewarding for me. After I slipped away from the bunch with Christiaan Kriek gaining a gap up to 3 minutes, I managed to pick up both King of the Mountain hot spots putting me in the lead of that competition and eventually winning it overall. My first Polka Dot jersey Win!
The Team work hard together and are very motivated to win and sacrifice for one another. Stage 4 on Pakisa Raceway proved this when we all sacrificed ourselves to bring the break back for a bunch sprint for Reinardt Janse van Rensburg.
Overall the Team had a successful Tour with Reinardt winning the Points Jersey, myself winning the Polka Dot Jersey, Arran Brown winning the final stage in Bloemfontein and Dennis van Niekerk getting 3rd overall.
Thank you all for the support!

Victory at Powerade Lost City Classic

The Team had a great win at the Powerade Lost City Classic with Arran Brown taking it in the sprint.

We had discussed the race and come up with a plan, but in the end it all worked out as planned.

I was not feeling at my best at the start and decided to conserve and sit in the bunch, saving my energy for a big burst in the leadout for Arran.

The bunch stayed together for most of the race with the exclusion of Louise Mientjies who slipped away up the road on his own with about 40km to go. The bunch however regrouped with about 15km to go and it was up to the fast men to sprint for victory. We had a few scares with Arran having a few technical problems during the 115km route, but he was motivated and ready for the sprint. Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Dylan Girdelstone and Petrus Loto did a great job following attacks and making sure the leadout train saved as much energy as possible.

With a few kilometers to go we organised ourselves near the front of the bunch waiting to jump to the front with 600m to go as planned. At 600m to go Martin Wesemann took us to the front and past Tasol/GT who were controlling the bunch with their leadout train for their sprinter Nolan Hoffman. Then Dennis van Niekerk took over from Martin  and then it was my turn for a kick up to 200m to go, launching Arran. He then kicked through to the line with Nolan just behind in 2nd and Dusty Day(Team Matlosana) in 3rd.

We are a very happy team taking the win! Hard work pays off!

Full race report: http://www.procycling.co.za/races/182-victory-for-brown-at-lost-city

Sights set on the Powerade Lost City Classic

The Team is very motivated for the Powerade Lost City Classic. After another second last weekend we’ll be looking for the top step of the podium. The team has been training hard and are looking good. In the races we have been pulling together and always been taking the race by the horns.

The majority of the finishes in this race have been big bunch sprints so it will be no surprise to see the big teams setting it up and leading it out for their fast men in the final few kilometers. There will however  be the fighters that are not willing to wait around all race for the sprint and attack throughout the race in an effort to get a gap.

I have had a bit of a cold from the weekend but have recovered well and am feeling strong. I will be putting in my best efforts on Saturday!

Wish us luck*

 

Racing Tomorrow..

Looking forward to the EPR Cycle Challenge tomorrow. The race starts from Talton Raceway at 8am. The Team has been training hard and are looking strong. We are very motivated for a win after finishing second at our last race, Carousel Classic on Tuesday.

I’m feeling good and enjoy this race. There are some hard rolling roads and the wind can make it even more challenging, these elements play to my strengths. All the teams will be racing and will be represented by all their riders, so there will be some stiff competition. I had the last two days easy with a massage yesterday as to be fresh for the race.

Wish us luck*

Carousel Classic

The Carousel Classic has always been one of my favourite races because of the longer distance, 150km, the wind and most of all, the fast rolling roads. This year’s race route was changed a bit and shortened to 110km though which changed the dynamic of the race to an extent. I preferred the longer distance as it became more of an endurance race of which rider had the best legs coming into the finish, but I was still determined to give it my best!

It is always a very early start to the day and the morning of the Carousel was very chilly. Our 4 man team assembled an hour before the start very positive and ready to race hard. The team had discussed the race and we all knew what was expected of ourselves. Everyone gave their bikes one last check and grabbed enough gels and food for the race and waited for the start.

Team Tasol/GT and Team Matlosana were the only teams fully represented as the rest of the teams had riders in Graskop racing the last day of the Clover tour. They took control, but we weren’t going to make it easy for them, we went with all the attacks and made a few ourselves. When we were about 5km out I was feeling good and wanted to put in attack with my hopes on winning solo. I spoke to Arran and he said I should give it a go and that he would sprint off the other teams.

I put in a big attack and managed to get a gap. The other teams didn’t want me to get away and gave a hard chase. I kept a gap for a while but it was not meant to be as they brought me back into the bunch. Martin countered my attack and got a gap for himself but this was also brought back by the other teams. This meant Arran would be our last card to play in the sprint for the line. It was an extremely close sprint coming down to the last 50m, but we had to settle for second, not a bad result for our small team but always disappointing. We always want to return home with the victory.

The team’s commitment to each other keeps on growing! I’m one very happy bike rider!

Upcoming Races

I am very excited for the upcoming races and traveling overseas again. The team has a busy few months ahead with all the usual one day races and 5 tours, 3 being abroad. These overseas tours give you great experience and conditioning and that is ultimately where the team wants to be.

I will be doing 3 out of the 5 upcoming tours, being the Tour of the Freestate, Herald SunTour (Australia) and Tour Hainan (China). The team is big enough now to send the sutable riders to the certain tours. This means that riders can specialise and avoid over-racing.

There is the Clover Tour this weekend and all our climbers will be racing as this is a mountainous tour and a similar team will be doing the Tour of China.

Preparation for these tours does not start a week before, normally it starts a few months before. Team MTN/Qhubeka is lucky to have Activeworx as a sponsor making sure we are training right in terms of intensity and volume and also making sure we are not over training. All our training is done with SRM, a leading power meter. We also monitor our weight and body fat to make sure we are healthy and fit to perform at our best.

The Tour of the Freestate starts on the 24 August and is 5 stages. Most of the stages are fast and rolling. It will be some good racing.

Back from the Bestmed Jock Cycle Classic

The team had a successful trip to Nelspruit, Mpumalanga for the Jock Cycle Classic. This is one of South Africa’s unique races having 3 stages in one day, with the winner being the one with the least accumulative time at the end of the final stage.

It was an early start on Saturday with a 4am wake up with the first stage kicking off at 06:30. This was one of the warmest mornings that I can remember for this normally freezing start.

The stages are relatively short being 50/60km a piece so tactics are really important. This lead to a few nervous riders with everyone watching each other closely. I worked hard for the climbers in the team, this being on of the climbers goal races.

In between the stages we made sure we ate and drank enough, talked tactics, discussed which riders to watch and kept the mood light while still staying focused.

At the end of the final stage, our team had ridden strong and our tactics worked out which had us taking the overall victory! Really enjoy my riding and racing with this team.

Happy Days! Sore legs!

Full race report at http://www.cyclenation.co.za/news/road-news/races-a-results/item/6217-mtn-qhubekas-girdlestone-wins-jock

Hello World

2011 Team Photos

Hello World
I have finally taken the trip into the virtual world proper by opening my own blog page. I will admit, I am no computer genius, so please take it easy on me if I take some time to get comfortable.
I think that blogging is a great way to interact with people who you might not normally have had the chance to interact with. I will try to update this site once a week on thoughts and experiences.
Will post again soon.