Bring on 2013

 

It is still an exciting thought that MTN/Qhubeka Powered by Samsung has Pro Continental status this year!

 

The team training camp in December was the start of our 2013 season and it was a great week where we could meet our new team mates from Europe and Africa. It was also a busy week of bike setups, goal setting, nutrition meetings, physical assessments, understanding the team objectives and a Qhubeka bike handover.

 

I believe our December training camp was essential and has given us great momentum to start 2013 on a positive note. I myself am excited for this year, with its new challenges and adventures, not that it will be an easy year, but it is a step up, and a step in the right direction for African cycling. This is also a great way to tell the story of Qhubeka to the world.

 

 

The African riders will be based in Lucca, Italy for 7 months of the year racing an international Calendar including many prestigious events. These events are tough and the team will be running two programs. We have some of the best staff on the team to help the riders complete this step up to an international level.

 

Thanks to everyone for the continued support!

MTN_Qhubeka2

 

Team MTN/Qhubeka at the World Team Time Trial Championships.

This was an event that was mentioned a while back and it was an event that I was particularly excited about. I put it down as one of my goals along with a few other goals that were needed to help qualify the team for this prestigious event.

The Team Time Trial is a special event for me as the team aspect of the sport is one of my favourites. This is probably why I find myself most of the races sacrificing for the team’s success doing the dirty work but feeling mighty happy at the end of the race seeing my teammate with the result we were aiming for.

Since our goal setting the World TTT had faded away a bit behind other major team goals and the results obtained in our earlier time over April May in Europe but was brought forward into the spotlight of everybody’s attention with a few months to go to Limburg 2012.

The team has been staying in Ninove, Belgium this year, but not in separate houses. Our team has been staying under one roof, which in some ways makes our team unique and gives us an extremely good understanding of one another, both in our personalities and how we ride our bikes. The team has stayed together in the house for about 3 months this year, training together, cooking together, cleaning together and finding time to socialise together.

The whole team from staff to rider was involved in the preparation for this goal event on the team’s calendar.

The training for this event was very focused and involved, science like aerodynamic testing, power output needed for certain speeds, what power is each athlete capable of achieving and what kind of speed would he be contributiong. The SRM power system was key to this data along with Dr Carol Austin our team coach.

The team also had pre training stretching and some mornings core strength exercises. Training days consisted mostly of double sessions which meant training simple through and off time trial power in the morning and more explosive power and technical riding thinking under pressure and problem solving training on a technical route in the afternoon to develop the team into a smooth and beautiful train.

To be a part of the team for the event was not easy though… The team had more than six riders to choose from and every one of us riders could have been in the six man team, every one of the riders was good enough and up to the 52km TTT challenge. So as per normal sport there was a selection process and everyone was pushed to their limits mentally and physically to be selected.

The day of the event was a special one and felt like it was over way too fast! The team was smooth and everyone in the team was proud to be racing through the streets with fans cheering, “Go Africa!” The best part was to be able to sit in the hot seat as having the fastest time over the course which lasted a few teams.

Thanks for all the support!!!

Great Team Work at The Vasbyt Challenge

The Vasbyt Challenge was always going to be a tough and challenging race being it 150km over some lumpy terrain and on the day the wind decided to blow. We were however quietly confident, having trained hard and having a team that is always such a strong unit.

The race started out with a few attacks which thinned down the bunch a bit. We had Adrien and Loto in the first break with a few other riders after about 40 km of racing and waited to see what the other teams would do. After this came back Songezo Jim (MTN/Qhubeka) and Pieter Seyffert (Westvaal) went away, we played this cool and calm having confidence in Songezo’s form over a long race such as the Vasbyt. The teams not represented in the break eventually started the chase with about 70km to go, and the break was caught soon after with a strong chase by Tyler Day (Bonitas).

I countered after the bunch had regrouped at about 50km to go forcing a move of 6 riders off the front, 3 Westvaal, Dusty Day, Dylan Girdlestone, Pieter Seyffert and 3 MTN/Qhubeka, Songezo Jim, Calvin Beneke and myself. This group worked well together establishing a good gap on the rest of the field.

With about15km to go MTN/Qhubeka riders went on the attack again isolating  Girdlestone . I managed to slip away with 8km to the finish and was happy to take the win after such a strong team performance.

Thanks for all the support!

Morocco and onto Europe

Our two and a half month international trip started with the Tour du Maroc, a 10 day tour over some challenging terrain and very windy conditions.

Tour du Maroc challenges you both physically and mentally. Physically on the bike racing, and mentally off the bike with different food varieties, cold showers and some half star accommodation… This is a great tour to build strength and character as a professional cyclist and is definitely a tour to go and compete in…at least once in your career.

The team took the General Classification lead on Stage 1 with Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg and held to the end. This took some hard work and commitment from the team, pacing and controlling everyday. The team wrapped up Tour du Maroc with the Yellow Jersey, the Green Jersey and 8 stage wins. Describing this trip as a success would be an understatement.

From Morocco the team travelled to Frankfurt, packed our team truck, camper and car, and drove through to our team house in Ninove, Belgium. We had stayed at this house last year and we found it very comfortable with great training loops in the surrounding areas.

So far the team has competed in 3 races, The GP Pino Cerami 1.1, The Rund um Koln 1.1 and the Zellik-Galmaarden 1.2. The racing is different in Europe and we need to adapt our racing style. The weather has also not been so great with plenty of rain and temperatures normally hovering in the 5 degree zone. I believe the team is still finding their European legs and will be getting some results soon.

Living in the team house is also a very different experience to what we are used to living at home. The guys are all getting along well and are working as a team in the house and kitchen just as hard as we work together in racing. Cooking dinner has become a major dailyevent. The team also has great staff support over here at the house in the form of our Director, Jens Zemke, our Soigneur, Basti Buffel and our trusty mechanic, Casper Bester.

Thank you to all our supporters! We are all motivated and have our sights set on some good results!

2012 Team MTN/Qhubeka Training Camp

Photo: Craig Dutton

The Team Training Camp was held in Nelspruit this year as this will be the location of the SA Road and Time Trial Championships. The plan was to train hard, spend time to get to know each other, do photos with the team and to have fun.

We all met Monday morning at MTN Head Office and headed off to Nelspruit. We arrived, checked the room list, found our rooms and got ready for a short pedal to loosen the legs after our drive. I also had time to get a quick massage in. Serious training would begin from day 2…

Tuesday saw the team breaking into various groups according to what the riders race programs and goals were. For some, including me, it would be a double session with hard intervals in the morning and a steady loop with photos in the afternoon.

Over the week we would all get a chance to meet and get to know our European Director Jens Zemke, tonight was my turn. Jens is a fantastic person with great knowledge and experience to help us get to the next level, Pro-Continental.

Day 3 was the hardest day for me and I think for many riders. The terrain in Nelspruit and the heat, together with a motivated group of individuals meant that training was going to be tough and challenging. The men’s team went through 25L of PVM Octane and 35L of water and burnt over 4000kj. It’s great to have all the riders on the same page with regards to where we want this team to be and there is a great vibe during training and around the dinner table.

Thursday was the SA route recon, and although we were feeling the effects of the last two days there would be no soft pedalling. We challenge each other in everything we do to become better on and off the bike. We were also kept busy by Craig Dutton who took some fantastic photos of

Photo: Craig Dutton

us. I can’t wait to see the full album.

Friday was our final day and consisted of an easy ride then the drive back to MTN Fairlands. The team, including all the staff, was a real unit throughout this training camp and everyone did what they needed to do and more.

Over my last 5 years with the team, I have to say that this was the most professional training camp we have had and that our sights are truly set on the next level!

End Year Refresh Button Brings a New Year with New Goals

 

New Year, New Goals

The end of a year finds the riders tired, physically and mentally, this is why a good break and getting away is important to refresh and to recharge for a new year. Time away gives you time to be out of your normal routine and ride in new terrain that keeps your mind interested. By the end of December you should have had some exciting and fun base rides and a new energy for the new year.

 

I was down in Natal for half my December. One week at the beach in Ballito and a week with my parents in Pietermaritzburg, where I grew up. December is a holiday for a professional cyclist in terms of you can go wherever you want but there is still some serious base training to be done.  I enjoyed some good miles on routes that I used to train and race on growing up.

 

I am excited and refreshed for the season that lies ahead especially with the big bold goals that the team has set. Goal setting is a key factor in the team and in individual success. Goals for me are my motivation to train hard and to stay focused on and off the bike. We will be spending more time in Africa and in Europe this year than any other year. We are aiming at succeeding with some great results in 2012 to motivate an even bigger European race calendar for 2013.

 

I wish everyone a Happy New Year!! Best wishes for all your goals for 2012!!

 

 

End of Season Catch Up

Jayco Herald Suntour 2011

The team had a busy final two months of the season with travels to the Jayco Herald Suntour in Australia and the Tour of Hainan in China. We also had two very important races upon our return to South Africa from our international tours.

 

The Jayco Herald Suntour was a great experience with some extremely tough sections. There were some strong teams represented including Saxo Bank Sunguard and Garmin Cervelo. The team worked really well together and gave 110%. We achieved great results with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg taking a stage and finishing 4th overall.

 

The Tour of Hainan was a little less controlled than Australia which produced some unpredictable racing. This meant that we had to be present in all the moves which proved to be difficult and made the tour very challenging. We remained however a strong unit amongst other well-known teams such as Saxo Bank Sunguard and Skil-Shimano. We finished 2nd overall in the tour with Reinie.

 

We returned to South Africa with some good racing in our legs and a great confidence for our final two races of the year being the MTN OFM Classic in Bloemfontein and the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg. These were important local races on our calendar for our sponsors. We managed to win both races with careful planning and great team work. Reinardt taking the OFM and Arran Brown winning the 94.7.

It feels great to end the season off on a high by winning the final race of the year. It makes our 3 week break that much sweeter.

 

2012 Planning

The team is currently busy with 2012 planning and bike fits. Planning and goal setting is one of many important key factors in the team’s success.

 

Will post again soon…

 

 

Engen Dynamic Challenge

 

I’ve always enjoyed racing in Durban. The races there are well-organized and the routes are always challenging. The team was once again very successful, working hard together and launching Arran to victory in the sprint finish.

 

We had spoken about the race and come up with a few scenarios. The team knew what to do and carried out the plans to perfection. Our team was very aggressive during the race putting in many attacks to get a gap. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg and Martin Wesemann eventually getting clear with about 45km to go with Hanco Kachelhoffer(Bonitas) and Richard Baxter(Tasol/GT).

 

This Break was brought back by Bonitas and Tasol/GT in the final few kilometers and the race ended in a sprint with Arran Brown taking it from Nolan Hoffman(Tasol/GT) and Tyler Day(Bonitas) who were 2nd and 3rd respectively. The team did a great job leading Arran out with Dennis van Niekerk going from 550m out and myself taking over at 350m to go.

 

Overall the team is working as a unit and putting in the extra work to perform at the next level with our sights set on European racing.

 

Team Work pays off at the MTN Zoo Lake Crit

Start of the MTN Zoo Lake Crit

The MTN Zoo Lake Criterium is always a big event for the team, with MTN being the title sponsor. This comes with a bit of pressure to pull off the win which the team did so successfully with Arran Brown outsprinting Nolan Hoffman and Hanco Kachelhoffer who were 2nd and 3rd respectfully.

The team had ridden the laps in the week leading up to the event and had discussed the race in detail, so that every rider knew what was expected of himself. We knew we would be outnumbered and knew we had to dig deep and work hard throughout the 2 hours of racing to set it up for Arran to sprint.

I felt good during the race and tried to save for the sprint to leadout Arran but had to change my mindset and step in and do some hard work earlier on. There was some aggressive racing coming from the other teams which we had to bring under control and make sure no dangerous riders slipped up the road.

The team  for this event was Arran Brown, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, JC Nel, Adrien Nyonshuti, Charles Keey and myself. The team was great in the race and everything came down to what we had planned with Arran taking it in the sprint.

The staff is also important in a high pressure race like this one and they were also very involved with keeping us calm and creating a relaxed atmosphere for us under the MTN gazebos.

Thank you to everyone for the support!

I am very proud to be a part of this team!

Happy Team!