South African Brendon Davids has reaped the benefits of his recent success Down Under and in Malaysia by signing to ride for one of Australia’s strongest teams, Bennelong Swiss Wellness Cycling.
Things could not have worked out better for him, said Davids, who flew to Australia just a day after winning the Jock Tour in mid-September.
Racing for the Oliver’s Real Food team, the former mountain-bike rider overcame tough odds to win Australia’s four-stage Battle Recharge event before adding a victory in the five-stage Jelajah Malaysia Tour a week later.
“Two days after arriving there, I was already lined up to guest-race for an Australian team. I don’t think anyone expected anything from me,” he recalled after returning to South Africa.
“It was my first race in Australia, so I just went in hoping to get a stage win. But one thing led to another and I got an overall victory.
“I got away in one of my longest solo breaks to win by almost five and a half minutes.”
Riding in extreme heat near Murwillumbah in north-east New South Wales, the Pietermaritzburg resident found himself competing in conditions that probably worked in his favour.
“A lot of the guys took big shots during the race and a couple of them got heat stroke,” he said.
“I managed to ride in moderated bursts and only went hard when I knew the terrain would allow for a gap to open. It was important for me to not burn all my matches early on.
“Being a circuit race, there was a section with two 3km drags that were really tough. That’s where I went as hard as I could.
“I then had to recover on the downhill parts to save energy before hitting the climbs again, and it ended up paying off.”
His performance raised a lot of eyebrows and he received a late call-up to race in Malaysia.
“One of the Oliver Real Food riders fell ill and a spot opened, so I got the call the day before the race.
“I arrived in Malaysia long after the rest of the team, and came down with a bit of flu from all the travelling. I had to downplay it to put everyone at ease for the race.
“In the first part of the first stage, I felt horrible. I didn’t think I would finish the tour, but as the stage went on I felt better and managed to make quite a decisive split.
“With about 80km to go on stage three, I went on another solo break to get the yellow jersey. I kept the yellow on the fourth day, but only by 25 seconds.
“The last day was really tough, because we had to defend a small lead. It made for quite an aggressive finish, but we pulled through for our second win in two weeks.”
After that decisive victory Davids signed the contract with Bennelong, formerly known as IsoWhey Sports.
He now hopes to build on his momentum when he competes in Australasia next year.
This means he probably won’t be in South Africa much next year, but he may compete in the national road championships in February.
And, of course, he hopes to qualify for the Commonwealth Games to be held on the Gold Coast in Queensland in April.