Orbit Tour de Worcester Pro Classic Series # 1

Sitting in the dark sipping on some espresso (feeling Italian), out of a travel mug (not so Italian) but anyway it was off for a day of skinny wheel bike racing. Something I, nor the Toyota Cycle Lab Elite Team haven’t done in a while. In fact I think that last race we did on the tarmac was the Giro del Capo.

We have a revamped team this season of four riders which means that the going can get tough at times when competing against squads of 9 plus riders but the old stalwarts in Matt Evans and Matt Wentworth return for another season of battle, myself too, back in the mix (not such an old stalwart) and our new recruit Ryan Binedell.

Anyway back to the story, we ventured to the other side of the mountain, through the tunnel and popped out in Worcester for the Orbit Tour de Worcester. It is a different race in that it incorporates a short section of gravel road in the middle of the race but other than that it is quite flat gaining only 550m of vertical ascent in its 102km.

 Image compliments of Ronelle Rust – Torque Pics 

Leaving the Daschbosch Winery at a rather frisky pace the bunch soon all grouped together and I was eager to get into an early move. My chance came a few kilometres in when I followed an Outriders rider across to a break of two guys, 1 from GT Velokhaya and the other from Pick n Pay. On our way across another guy from Velokaya joined us and off we went. It seemed at first as if our efforts were in vain as the bunch held us just there hovering until eventually the elastic snapped and they let us go.

Our breakaway group worked well together. We knew that we should at least try and survive until the gravel section as this usually brings carnage to the race especially if you are not well positioned.  We did get to the gravel but our own group split, we soon dropped two riders and then it was just me and the two GT Velokhaya boys. I could see they were weakening and decided to drive the pace, I managed to get a gap and went for it. I was feeling very Spartacus/Cancellera like bumping along the rough gravel with the dust blowing from under my wheels. Back in the bunch it was carnage with only Mr Wentworth surviving in the front split, this after a year off racing almost! Mr Evans and Ryan were unlucky to get caught behind guys who made mistakes but Matt managed to find a few guys to work well together and they were soon back in the bunch.

Image compliments of Ronelle Rust – Torque Pics 

Unfortunately the gravel section soon came to an end and back on the tar I was out front on my own and decided to wait for the GT boys as it would be pointless carrying on, on my own. We again combined well but the bunch was soon upon us.

 Back in the bunch relaxing a bit the attacks came thick and fast and soon another move went clear, this is where the winning move of the day would come from.

Image compliments of Ronelle Rust – Torque Pics 

I thought the guys from the bigger teams would put in more of an effort to bring the move back but this was not to be as each team was represented in the move. It would then be a bunch sprint for 6th place. Our plan was to try and lead Wenty out to get that 6th. The jostling at the front in the last 10kilo’s was pretty crazy, on terrible potholed roads especially considering there was no prize money for 6th. Unfortunately it didn’t work as our train got a bit boxed in and Wenty finished in 15th with Evans and I finishing in the bunch. Ryan managed to finish in the 3rd split, a good effort considering it was his first league race.

Congrats to Erik on a solid win from the break (his second win of the weekend after winning a mountain bike race on Saturday) with Jos taking a good second after a heavy season of racing in Belgium.

After the race it was good to have the club gazebo there where we could sip on a few cokes and exchange war stories. I then joined Ray Cox to ride back to Stellenbosch, another 90km’s or so, giving us almost 200km and 6hours of riding, good training for the upcoming Ultra marathon in two weeks.

Have a good week folks!

Have a look at some more cool images from the race here that Ronelle also took.