It was my first venture out to the Penny Pinchers Greyton Classic over the past weekend. I had ridden and raced in the area before so had some idea of what to expect. The course would take in much of a 2014 Cape Epic stage, fortunately shortened by some 20km.
With the race offering and advertising some real prize money, the pros were attracted like bees to the honey pot. This is something myself and other riders feel that many race organisers could take a note of. Often racers don’t know how much prize money is on offer, sometimes if any. If you’re trying to race as a professional, this can become immensely frustrating.
The first selection of the day was made 15km into the race as Gert Heyns and Darren Lill upped the tempo on the first major climb to ultimately go clear. Shortly thereafter a chase group of 4 of us formed including: Conrad Stoltz, Charl Pierre Esterhuyse and Stephen Senekal. Our group worked well together. Stoltz was the victim of a puncture just past the half waymark and then there was just 3 of us.
With some degree of familiarity to the region I had an idea of what was to come, I knew the final 20km of the race encompassed a number of short steep climbs. I planned to up the pace in our group here to force a selection. The tactic worked as I rode away from the other two. The kilometres seemed to drag on for some time up to the final ascent up to the Castle. My thoughts were temporarily transferred from the pain in my legs to a stinging pain in my arm as I was stung by a bee! A welcome distraction perhaps?
The reward was some awesome trails down from the Castle, which brought us back down to The Oaks and the finish line, I was satisfied with 3rd on the day behind Gert who had taken the win and Darren in 2nd.