The weather could not have been a more perfect greeting for the riders on the morning. There was some rain the previous evening to help push out day zero, but the roads were dry for racing in the morning. Stephen, Aaron, Brendon, and Kevin lined up for Pure Savage ready for some hammering!
As the race kicked off in anger, we found ourselves flying through the suburbs while negotiating roundabouts like seasoned World Tour pros which strung the group out briefly heading onto the R302.
Almost immediately a small break of UCT riders went off the front and the group decided to leave them out front as they trundled through thefarmlandss towards Windmeul. Not even the ramp to Windmeul, with a bit of Savage on the front, would cause any splits in the group and despite the spirited efforts of Emce van Zyl going over to the break, the pace in the group remained fairly sedate.
By the time the group arrived at the newly tarred Slent road (a new route addition to the 99er this year) the race was all back together. As the group swung right onto the Philadelphia road the pace rose slightly as there were a few riders off the front. With the likes of Specialized, Gear Change, and DSV boys still in the peloton, there was no rush to close the gaps to those ahead.
The Specialized duo did keep the racing interesting taking turns at attacking the peloton making sure the group was still paying attention. The only other action before Vissershok came in the form of someone losing their Garmin 1000 in spectacular fashion at around 45km/h and asking the motorbike to go back and fetch it for him.
The new route also cut out that bumpy old van Schoorsdrif Road, but then included a much longer stretch on the N7 which could have been a lot tougher if the usual South Easter was pomping. Luckily there was a tail wind and it was an opportunity to catch your breath and prepare yourself for what lay ahead. Once the peloton turned off the N7 and onto the first little rise on Vissershok, the 90 odd kilometers in the legs started taking its toll on the group. The once bunched up peloton became more and more strung out, like one's budget at the end of January (Jan you worry). On the proper kick up on Vissershok about a kilometre after the four-way stop, those with the legs opened up the taps and brought on pain for everyone else.
There was a group of about 7 or 8 riders in the front that went over the top of Vissershok together with a 30 second gap and managed to stay ahead on the way down and on the 1km Odendaal Road climb up to the finish. Gert Heyns taking the win over Craig Boyes and Waylon Woolcock.
Kevin crested Vissershok with the 2nd bunch of about 15 riders, who got together and worked hard to the foot of Odendaal where things exploded once again and it was every man for himself. Kevin managing 18th spot and a minute back overall.
Aaron and Stephen were in the 3rd bunch over Vissershok and came in 36th and 38th respectively. Aaron recovering from a nasty crash at Bouckaert Soenen a week ago with a hip reflecting all colours of the rainbow (predominantly Indigo and Violet) and Stephen spending more time in his takkies these days than on two wheels (we've already booked him an appointment at our preferred psychologist handling unfortunate issues like these that we experience from time to time).
Brendon ended up in the 4th bunch and 62nd overall, but worked exceptionally hard all day to secure enough photos for the blog.