“We have not really done high-intensity efforts this year,” said the NAD Pro rider.
They had been doing 20-minute intervals in training with 30 minutes the longest they had tackled. The key was to find the right balance.
“To try and pace yourself as hard as possible is the most difficult,” he said.
The Nelspruit local figured the best way to win the ITT was to try not to pedal flat-out on the downhill sections, thereby conserving energy for the uphills where it was easy to lose a lot of time if you weren’t careful.
“I pretty much just rode in a downhill tempo and tried to stay in an aero position so that when I hit the uphill drags I had more power and I was able to pedal harder.
“I also think I am more aerodynamic in the way I am built and then I also like riding with big gears. So, a time-trial definitely suited my capabilities.”
Regarding the route and weather conditions, Bell said the race was “very difficult” mainly because it was extremely hot.
“The average temperature was around 31 degrees. So the heat was a factor for everyone.”
He said on the way back, over the last 20km, there was a lot more climbing than in the first section.
“On a time-trial bike you obviously go a bit slower on the steep parts of the route and so the heat was definitely a big factor there.”
The 35-year-old also said he thought the team’s “super-fast” bikes had played a big role in their success.
He added that since he was second on the GC he would try to stay in contention, but that the team’s main objective was to support Beers in the race.
Bell concluded by saying they enjoyed racing in the Mpumalanga Tour and that it was always great to support local races in their area.