Sprinting for the podium & SA Road Champs

I have always enjoyed road racing.  It is very different to Mountain biking but when racing it is just as hard.  When setting up my race calendar for this season the SA Road Champs was definitely a priority date.  I knew I could do well if all worked out and always thought a podium finish to be possible.  In PE I did the odd Road race and performed quite well against our local racers.
On the start line ready to go. Yes roadies may use peaks 😉
The 2015 SA Road champs were held in Mbombela (Nelspruit). The first thing that amazed me when we arrived was the Heat! I struggled the first few days but eventually got used to it. Saturday, 7 Feb it was race day. Waking up at 4 am for the race starting at 6 is never nice, but rather this than the midday heat. The hardest thing for me was not planning where to attack but figuring out what nutrition to take with me as this was a 130 km race!  The course was very flat except for two sharp kicks. I knew the climbs were the only places that I could hurt the guys.  After about 70 km of racing I decided to heat things up with an attack but it did not work out the way I hoped. After 2 attempts I stopped attacking and just sat in the bunch saving my legs as I knew it was going to come down to a sprint finish. Nobody really ever came close to getting away from the bunch.
With two laps and 20 km to go the guys were starting to get twitchy and nervous. I just kept myself composed and relaxed and started to focus on the sprint finish. To get away in a break on a hard course would have suited me better as sprinting is not something I have to call on often with Mountain biking races.  
On the last lap and climb of the day Jarrod Hatting attacked and me and Julian Jessop who race XCO with me were the only two to follow his wheel and get a slight gap. The bunch caught us quickly as nobody was going to let a break get away so close to the finish. With one corner and about 200 meters to go to the finish line I was just following Jarred’s wheel as I knew he was the strongest rider going into the sprint.  We went straight past the bunch and I tried but did not have the legs to get past. It was a close finish and in the end I got 3rd and am really very happy with the result. The flat terrain was not ideal but no complains as one must always be able to adapt to any race conditions.
Big smile on the podium with me 3rd!  Jarrod Hatting 1st and Damean Oosthuizen 2nd
This year my training is on a new level thanks to Mike Posthumus. I am really excited for the rest of the season and could not have asked for a better start.
Thanks to Kargo Pro MTB Team for their support as always.  Also thanks to the much needed support I am always getting from my parents!
For the rest of the season it is Mtbiking all the way and I’m really looking forward to it!
I must add I am a bit bummed that I missed out on getting selected for the Junior National Road cycling team to participate in the African Continental Champs.  Checking the results afterwards and seeing that I managed to beat 6 of the 7 riders selected to represent SA made me feel pretty good. In all a very positive weekend with 2015 season looking good!