Shaun-Nick Bester‘s victory at the Magalies Citrus Gravel Xpress, which took place in Gauteng at the weekend, was particularly special to him as it was his last race before he jets off to Switzerland.
“Every victory is special to me in its own way, but this one is really special as it came so close to the Swiss Epic.
“It was the last event I’ll race before flying off to Switzerland on August 17,” said the 28-year-old, who will compete in the demanding five-day mountain bike event alongside former Canadian national XCM champ Alexandre Vialle.
Bester said his objective for the 112km mountain-bike race was to make the going as hard as possible for himself in preparation for the Swiss Epic.
“I wanted to try and simulate the long, hard efforts I’ll need for the Swiss Epic.”
He clearly put in that hard work because by about 45km into the race he was already on his own and ultimately soloed to the finish.
“Early on in the race there were lots of attacks with a few moves going off the front, but not staying away for long.
“At about 25km in we hit the first single-track section. I looked ahead and saw we were going to go through a gate, hit a hard right and then go up a short and steep climb.”
Bester said he made sure to come out of that corner first. He attacked and only Alain Slabbert, who placed third on the day behind Carl Lotter, could follow.
“From there I saw he was struggling a bit and I kept the pace high, but not too high so I didn’t get rid of him too early on.
“We rolled together until we hit the Breed’s Neck Mountain Pass where I turned up the pace to try and distance my competitors more and he dropped off.”
The Winter Fast One winner felt the route suited him well and that it was more like a road race, where tactics came into play.
He added that the weather affected racing conditions along the route.
“The weather was good, but the wind picked up a lot when we made our way back to the finish.
“I had to really dig deep as I rode into a block headwind all the way back on the long open roads.”