Off the start line we went straight to the front and set a hard pace. The route had been shortened and the last 10 kilometres were tar so our thinking was; that easier terrain would make it harder for us to make back more time.
A select group of ourselves, Shaun Leech(GT/Honda), Delaney Impey(Cycle lab/Toyota) and Henry Uys got away, all three were individual riders so we wern’t racing them directly.
Shaun and Henry once again set an aggressive pace up the first climbs whilst we maintained our rhythm with Delaney sticking with us. A couple of kilometres down the road we caught Shaun as he had chain problems, he was soon off in pursuit of Henry again.
We maintained our hard tempo and again reeled in Shaun as he once again had mechanical trouble and then after driving hard on the dirt road sections we caught Henry again who was at that stage in the lead.
Our group was back to the original composition as we entered the last ten kilometres on the tar. Sean and I worked hard on the front pushing to make up as much time as possible. I knew that it would be extremely disappointing if we lost the race by 30 seconds or so.
Approaching the last climb before we would turn into Kloofzicht Lodge we put in a big effort; with our thoughts more on making back time and not so much for the stage win; this did however help me enter the last single track first. I kept the pace high, a short section of tar followed before we again went onto the dirt and this time down a technical downhill. It was here where I realised that I could possibly win the stage overall. Henry was about 5 metres off my wheel as we approached the finishing straights, a couple of hundred metres on soft, energy sapping grass as we went around a small dam. I pushed as hard as I could half expecting Henry to come around me but as I checked under my shoulder I saw that I had gained a further gap on him and took the stage!
We managed to win the stage by some 7 minutes over the next team and this enabled us to win the overall team competition by 1 and half minutes! Very stoked to have the first win for the year under the belt including two stage victories. Something that didn’t look quite possible on Friday afternoon.
A thought that replayed itself again and again over the last two days of racing was: “it’s not over until the fat lady sings!”
Apologies for the lack of photos, have been searching high and low for them over the past few days and have found nothing. Will be sure to post some next week if I do manage to find a few.