City Cycling & Athletic Club, established in 1891, were the hosts for the day in the Slanghoek Valley. They offered the Dunlop Cup, which was first raced for in 1949, to the winner of the Category 1 race.
We salute this club for hosting this race so far from their home base in Cape Town.
Heavy rains were predicted on race day so for the entire week riders were on weather watch and praying for a dry Sunday.
With the race being held in the Slanghoek valley around 100kms outside of Cape Town and inclement weather predicted we saw a definite decrease in entries with around 120 riders over Cat 1, 2, 3 and ladies. On the day we also saw a small u15 and u17/Junior elite categories which made for some tough racing for these juniors.
Upon approaching Rawsonville and Slanghoek we were greeted by some spectacular views of the snow capped mountains all around us which made for a pretty icy cold morning. At the beautiful Die Eike restaurant the riders had arrived early to ensure signing on and get in a proper warm up. Riders knew they were in for a tough day in the saddle. In the meantime spectators and officials were queuing up for some hot coffee and breakfast packs at Die Eike Restaurant.
The day started off with the Category 1 race. Riders would be doing 3 laps of the tough 40km circuit with the Category 2, 3 & ladies racing 2 laps. The 45 man field had lined up with some reluctantly parting with their long sleeve tops. A slight breeze on the start line brought temperature down quite a bit.
The cat1 race started off just like the temperature pretty chilled until we made our way around the Goudini hill and raced out onto the open roads. The race then quickly became single file in the gutter as the crosswinds swept across the open terrain left to right. With no residential areas in the immediate vicinity the roads were very quiet which allowed the race to take up most of the road. The Race Commissaire used his discretion for the ‘gutter’ on the wrong side of the road before the race took the first left turn onto the Ceres Road.
As the race turned away from Worcester the race was once again strung out into single file with riders keeping to the far left edge of the road looking to suck the wheel in front of them. Riding on the far left shoulder of the road meant that riders were forced to ride over some dodgy patches of road and this is where I had punctured my rear wheel and with no support vehicle on the day that was the end of my race. I quickly replaced my tube and made sure I was ready to hop onto the back of the Cat 2 bunch to catch a free ride back to the start.
The Cat1 race stayed together until the Slanghoek Valley turn. Everyone negotiated the low water bridge crossing and then tackled deceptive 2 km climb. This is where the bunch was splintered into small groups of riders. Just after the summit a break went away with 10 strong riders, 4 riders from Giant – Alfa bodyworks namely Rohan du Plooy, Nicol Carstens, Reinhardt Marais and Bernard Esterhuizen. Also in the was Jacques Lloyd from Specialized, Shameeg Salie from Randwater, Jaco Davel from ASG, Charl van Wyk from Aurecon and Charlie Mc Fall and Rocco King from Team Mad Macs.
Theuns vd Bank from Auercon then tried to ride across to this very dangerous break and he was seemingly dragging some more dangerous riders across with him. He decided to either shut down the chase or he ran out of gas, I can’t be sure which it was. The chase then integrated with the main bunch who kept on chasing hard but this caused the group to get smaller and smaller with the gap between the break growing bigger as no-one was willing to put together a well orchestrated chase.
After lap 2 the gap was around 4 – 5mins to the chasing bunch that had thinned out to fewer than 15 riders. It was pretty clear going into the last lap that the winner was going to come from 1 of the 7 riders left in the lead group. With 3 representatives, Team Giant – Alfa riders were the clear favourites to take the win.
As they approached the final few kms the Giant – Alfa boys got rid of Charl van Wyk and with 3 riders still present they started leading Bernard out and this is when Shameeg Salie was forced to open his sprint from a long way out. He nearly stole the win but Bernard managed to edge Shameeg on the line to take the win and Rohan ending 3rd, Jacques Lloyd 4th, Jaco Davel taking 5th place and Rocco 7th. The chase group that had formed on the last lap finished just over 4 mins behind the winners. The main bunch was shattered into pieces and riders finished in drips and drabs. A hard day of racing in Category 1
After the race a complaint was lodged against the Giant – Alfa riders in the breakaway and they were then subsequently disqualified by the race officials.
Riders 199 and 117 – UCI Rules Chapter III rule 2.3.009 – Did not sign on for the race
Rider 107 – UCI Rules Chapter III 2.3.012 – Received assistance during race
The amended Category 1 podium:
1st Shameeg Salie – Randwater
2nd Jacques Lloyd – Specialized
3rd Jaco Davel – ASG
The Cat 2 race kicked off shortly after the Cat 1 race and the field was packed with all the usual faces of GC leader Oswin Booysen, 2nd place man Azri Sassman and the out and out favourite for the race Giovanni Pantalone. Ethan Warrin was also hungry to prove that his last win at Killarney was no fluke after he was DQ’d on a technicality.
The Cat 2 race saw a crash right on the start line as the race started with a few riders going down as there was a touch of wheels. After just a few kilometres the 1st breakaway of the day went clear with Phoenix CC teammates Ethan Warrin and Tyrone Philander and Rassie Smit riding in SA national team kit.
The 3 leaders were working well together and quickly built a 1 min lead over the main field and into the crosswind the bunch nervous not to lose sight of them. Many riders tried to ride across the gap but it seems the cross winds made this almost impossible.
By the time the bunch turned left towards the low water crossing, riders were stretched out in single file with many riders struggling to hold onto the scintillating chasing pace.
As the bunch hit the main climb Giovanni Pantalone decided it was time to get across to the breakaway and he took Guy Le-Ray Cook with him. No-one else was able to follow them. Azri and a couple of riders tried to get into the break as well but they weren’t able to close the gap. The bunch was now thinned out after the climb but the 2 sprinters Ozzie and Oscar Cloete managed to survive the climb with the bunch.
Giovanni and Guy rode across to join the early 3 man breakaway the bunch couldn’t put in a concerted effort to close down the break and pretty soon they were out of sight.
On the last lap Guy was dropped on the climb leaving the 4 survivors to fight it out for the win. With around 2 – 3kms to go Giovanni broke away on the undulating terrain which is typical of the Slanghoek Valley and he rode away looking for the win. Rassie and Ethan then distanced Tyrone as they chased Giovanni but they had to battle it out for 2nd place. Ethan managed to outsprint Rassie for 2nd spot with Tyrone taking 4th place.
Official Cat 2 result as follows:
1st Giovanni Pantalone
2nd Ethan Warrin – Phoenix
3rd Rassie Smit
The Category 3 race started shortly after the Cat 2 race and once again all the favourites were on the line. Sambo was once again backed by a strong Infinity team.To spoil their fun was a big contingent of Star CC, Phoenix and Cyclopaths riders. GC leader Derwyn Oxley of The Outriders CC was present to defend his lead on the GC leader board.
We once again had a small ladies field of just 7 riders and it was decided that they race with the Category 3 bunch.
The racing started out fast but the bunch managed to stay together for the 1st lap. Sambo suffered a puncture and with the help of his team mates who offered up a wheel he got back into the race. The bunch waits for no-one and the Infinity boys were left to chase all on their own. After the 1st lap Sambo and team were around 4 mins off the pace. They would have their work cut-out for them riding into the block headwind and they soon realized that it would be impossible to catch the main bunch.
The bunch managed to stay together and the race finished in a sprint finish with Joshua Louw taking the win in a tight finish from Gamiem Isaacs in 2nd and Christian Scriba in 3rd.
Derwyn put in a valiant sprint to narrowly miss out on a podium position finishing in a very good 4th place.
4 of the ladies managed to finish with the main CAT3 bunch and in the sprint Cathy Carstens outsprinted Carla Steyn for 2nd and 3rd went to Tina Brenzel, Kelly Tome just missing out narrowly on a podium place. Mandie Swart and Chanel Hannah finished the race 7mins behind the main bunch.
The next race was supposed to be Lady Loch on the 26th of August but that event has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
The next race on the WP calendar is on the 2 September on a 10 kilomete circuit on the outskirts of Somerset West and Stellenbosch.