The Grape and Gravel is a 3 day stage race hosted from Goudini Spa nestled in the Breedekloof Valley, a valley I had visited just a few weeks ago. Being in its first year the event seems to have started off on the right foot and looks to only improve.
The race attracted some of the stronger riders from the Cape, with some new combinations on the gird namely the Contego boys of Adriaan Louw and Waylon Woolcock. After riding the Cape Epic together Jurgens Uys and Renay Groustra are also back in tandem. Colin Noel from George is my new partner this weekend and we would also see some competition from the youngsters Edward Best and Charl Pierre Esterhuyse.
Flatter open roads, intersected with tougher jeep track sections were the characteristic of the first 30km of the 77km stage. The tougher sections allowed the bunch to be whittled down before it was just Contego and RSA Web/PSG left at the front. Colin had fallen hard in a section of single track and after dusting himself off; we set off on a long chase of the youngsters Best and Esterhuyse.
With the event literally being just down the road from the Breede River Valley Classic a few weeks ago, tougher sections of that event were incorporated as well as some great sections of single track that were also actually used in the recent Cape Epic. Dusty rocky conditions were the order of the day and ultimately showed off typical Karoo riding.
On the road back to the line we eventually caught Best and Esterhuyse and with some roadie guttering we managed to get away from them and get a foot on the last step of the podium for the stage.