Renay Groustra from our Team RSAWEB Cycle team gives us some insight into his race from the 3rd round of the National XC Series at the Hayterdale Trails in Zuurburg, Eastern Cape last weekend, where the cycle elite in SA assembled to battle it out.
To be honest I was very surprised at the great condition of the track – the organisers had been preparing for us over the last few months which was great. The track had many challenges and obstacles: there was steep climbing, steep technical downhills with drop offs, as well as a fast flowing singletrack through the thick bush that surrounds the area below the Zuurberg pass.
A few of the big names in SA cycling such as Philip Buys and Burry Stander were absent from the race since they were overseas, but the level was still very competitive with riders such as Luke Roberts, Oliver Munnik and Gert Heyns to contend with. Being the number 1 ranked rider at the event, I was very eager to assert that ranking at this race. It has been a couple years since I last took a national win.
The race kicked off at a fast pace, and after testing the field with a small attack, it all pretty much came together towards the end of the lap on the long piece of singletrack towards the end. The other competitors were really pushing the limits on the singletrack!
It was in the 2nd lap of 6 that 3 of us rode clear of the field (Gert Heyns, Luke Roberts(RECM) and myself) We changed leads over the next few laps until it was just Luke and myself left setting the pace up front where I was poised to make my move – on the 5th lap I attacked Luke and put some distance between us.
I pushed the pace hard on the singletrack, to solidify my lead but the next I thing I know I was standing on the side of the track trying to figure out why my rear wheel won’t turn in the frame! Both the rear wheel and the cassette seemed to have jammed up. I couldn’t figure the problem out, and when Luke came flying past I jumped back on in hot pursuit.
The wheel seemed a lot better, but I could still feel it rubbing quite badly, and chasing a guy like Luke Roberts with a rubbing discs is mission impossible. I tried to consolidate, but lost heart towards the end and let another u23 rider squeeze past in the final straight. For me, coming anything less than 1st at this race is as good as last.
The only up side was that, despite losing out on the Pro –Elite win, I still managed to win the overall elite category by over two minutes! It was really great to stand on top of the podium once again ahead of great riders like Oliver Munnik.
Thanks for the write up Renay!