The past weekend we were down in Durban for the 30th edition of the Tsogo Sun Amashova 106km road race. Being one of the big classics of the year and also having Tsogo Sun as one of our sponsors, the pressure was on the get the top step of the podium.
In 2012 Johann won the race and since then the victory has belonged to our sprinter Nolan Hoffman who won it 2013, 2014 and in 2015.
We arrived in Durban earlier in the week,staying at the Tsogo Sun Elangeni to train on part of the route and familiarise ourselves with the important sections of the race. The weather was horrible leading up to the race. We had a couple of days riding in the rain, but come race day the skies opened up for us and we had perfect racing conditions.
Our plan coming into the race was riding for a sprint as we've got Nolan and Reynard as cards to play and who are both really fast in the sprints. We knew other teams would make our task difficult, as we would probably be the only team to race for a sprint.
It was a slowish start to the race with the first climb starting after 2km into the race. As we hit the climb, attacks were coming from all sides. We were well represented in the major moves that we thought would be a threat. It was a very aggressive first 15km of the race with team Road Cover, Lights by Linea and smaller teams keeping us on our toes. Morne, Johann, David and myself were the domestics for the day.
The pace was on when we got to the 40-50km mark and we tried to keep it as steady as possible for our two sprinters sitting in the bunch. There was a lone leader at that stage, but he got brought back quite quickly over the last real climb of the day.
I dropped my chain up the last climbed and it got jammed in my front chain ring which forced me to stop, and that was the section where the bunch split up. I was too far behind after my technical and ended up in the 2nd bunch on the road.
The work was left to Johann and David to keep the bunch together so that Nolan and Reynard could have an easy ride to the line. Johann did a lot of work until 10km to go. There was a flurry of attacks form Road Cover and other teams to try get away from the bunch. Nolan and Reynard had to step in and cover some moves as we were a bit outnumbered.
Johann got to the front and did his last hard pull on the front of the bunch right until 2km to go and left it for David, Reynard and Nolan to finish it off. David had to dig quite deep to do his share of the lead out and mine. David did his turn and swung off for Reynard to take the lead out to the last mark and they did it perfectly to deliver Nolan to the line to get the victory for team Telkom.
We had great support from the team Telkom staff leading up to the race and getting the top step of the podium sure made all the effort worth it for them and us.
It was a sweet ending to a good block of racing. From Isuzu Three towers, Berg & Bush ending it off with the Tsogo Sun Amashova.
We will be riding out on some of the Malmesbury trails. If you are in the area please don't hesitate to pop in for a coffee and come and see what great specials we've got for you!
All Photos Taken by Kevin Sawyer