The TEG-Barzani Pro Cycling team were determined to defend their Double90 title at the weekend, but it was not all plain sailing for them in the race that got under way from Clarens in the eastern Free State.
Team member Nico Thiart said they started off by pushing very hard.
Unfortunately the team could only start with 10 members, instead of 12, as there were complaints that they had too many UCI Pro Continental riders.
“We had only one plan and that was to win the race,” Thiart said of the 180km time trial.
“It’s a great feeling to be part of the winning team again. We had strong competition this year, so to take the win is an awesome feeling.
Fellow Barzani teammate Dusty Day added that they lost two “powerful riders” in the first 60km.
“We lost another two just after Bethlehem because of the pace we needed to keep up,” said Day.
“We arrived at the halfway mark with seven in a time of 2 hours and 16 minutes with a 46km/h average speed. We left there gaining an eighth rider eventually.”
Day said they started rolling and soon realised they needed to do some planning.
“Our workhorse [Nico] then dropped and we were seven left. The only guys left rolling were myself, Travis, Jason, Louis and Brandon. Thys and Alex were hanging on to be our sixth and seventh riders.
“As we entered Golden Gate, Alex dropped off and with 40km to go we were [down to] six. We nursed it all the way till about 15km to go then we had some bad luck. I suffered two punctures and had to make a plan by fixing them in strange ways.”
Thiart added that it was very hard because of the numbers left at the end and two flat tyres in the last 20km made it even more stressful.
“We knew that the record of last year wouldn’t be beaten but we still had a chance of winning.
“Numbers were a big problem this year so we had to ride smart and try not to spend all our pennies in the first half of the race.”