The VW Herald Cycle Tour took place this past Sunday, 5 February, in the friendly city, Port Elizabeth. After a week of cold, rainy weather, Sunday turned out to be a perfect day for a bike race. My Momentum Toyota teammates; Robyn de Groot, Joanna van de Winkel and I lined up on the start line ready for some good, hard racing.
Jo was the first to start the racing, launching an attack up the first uphill drag, shortly after the start on beach front road. She was quickly followed by a few of the Bizhub riders and as we all rejoined and the bunch started to sit up, I decided it was my turn to take a dig. I was followed by Marissa Stander from Bizhub, and after a few minutes of driving on the front, I realised that no one was going to chase and we were quite clearly away. This all happened within the first 5km and I must admit, I was very surprised to have gotten away so quickly. At this stage Marissa actually came up next to me and said: “it’s going to be a long day!”
Having had a team chat the evening before, I was quite confident that it wouldn’t be long before I was joined by at least one, if not both of my team mates. And shortly after Marissa’s comment, we were joined by Robyn de Groot who had bridged the gap and Anriette Schoeman who come with her. Unfortunately Jo did not managed to join us, as being the only Momentum Toyota rider left in the peloton, she was quite heavily marked by the other Bizhub ladies.
We were now four away and having representation from both the big teams, we started cooperating, driving the break. It did not take long for the gap to grow considerably and by Maitlands climb, half way into the race, it was clear that we would not be caught. The winner was to come from one of the four of us away.
Shortly after Maitlands, Robyn and I regrouped to discuss our plan of action for the remainder of the race. The question was whether to try to drop one of the two Bizhub riders or whether to take both to the finish line to sprint. With a strong head wind in the last 30km, the conditions weren’t really suited for any further moves, and Robyn and I being the stronger on the day, we were quite confident that if we took it down to a sprint one of us would pull it off.
As we approached the finish line, Robs launched her sprint early, luring Anriette and Marissa. This suited me perfectly, as it forced Anriette and Marissa to string out behind Robyn and I was given the perfect position of fourth wheel nearing the line. With about 150m to go, I decided it was time to launch my sprint. I felt good and I managed to take it comfortably with Marissa Stander finishing 2nd, Anriette Schoeman 3rd and teammate Robyn taking 4th. What a great display of team work, paying off in a win for Momentum Toyota ladies team!
Thanks to Robyn for great support on the day, she was incredibly strong. The VW Herald Cycle Tour is a great race, along a beautiful route with full road closure. It is one of my favorite races in South Africa and with the PE Herald being one of the title sponsors, the race offers great coverage for the professional teams in their Monday paper. Thanks Port Elizabeth and VW Herald for the great hospitality and race organisation! Momentum Toyota will definitely be back next year to defend our title 🙂