Andrew Hill and Shaun-Nick Bester managed to maintain a delicate balance between endurance and time spent on the course during the joBerg2c neutral stage that finished in Frankfort, Free State, today.
“The neutral stage is always an interesting one because you don’t want to expend too much energy but you also don’t want to spend the whole day out there as you know you’re going to be racing for the next couple of days.
“It’s a balance between keeping in that endurance zone and checking along, so today’s neutral stage was good,” said Hill, who is partnering Darkhorse Wheels ProCycling teammate Shaun-Nick Bester in the nine-day stage race.
Hill added that their strategy was to keep a good, consistent pace and to top up on fluids and food at the water-points.
“Even though you’re riding at an endurance pace, you’re still expending critical calories that you need to top up.
“Even today we expended around 3 000 calories just by being out there for a length of time.”
He said that instead of going into the race fully primed as they would with other stage events, they used today as a warm-up.
“Tomorrow should be good fun and a nice rolling day, very similar to today with not much climbing,” said Hill, referring to the 93km route from Frankfort to Reitz.
Sarah Hill, who is partnering Galileo Risk teammate Theresa Ralph in the women’s race, said it was a fun, fast and flat stage.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t expend too much energy, but at the same time we didn’t want to spend seven hours out on the course.
“We used today as a leg-loosener and to take the opportunity to have a lot of fun.”
Hill added that it was also a warm-up and a chance to meet the other women in the field.
“We are so excited for tomorrow. That’s when the race officially begins and we’re ready to give it a good go.
“Both Theresa and I are extremely motivated because we just love this race so much. I can’t wait to watch the landscape unfold.”
She said although today was a neutral stage, they still felt the 111km in their legs.
“It’s an obstacle to overcome and maximising recovery is super important.”