Brad Gouveris successfully defended his criterium and road race titles at the Festival of Cycling that finished in Port Elizabeth today.
Gouveris won two of the three criterium races and the 72km road race, which resulted in him being crowned the overall winner.
“It’s always nice to win at home. I’m very happy with how it went,” said the 21-year-old Port Elizabethan.
“It’s difficult to defend a title, so being able to defend both is a huge morale booster. I’m very happy with how this series went.”
The Lorraine Cycle Tour champion said he had hoped to repeat last year’s victory, but things could easily have gone wrong so was relieved he managed to remain focused.
“What I can say is that coming into the race I knew I had good form and a strong sprint so I’m very glad to have put it to good use.”
He said on the first day he enjoyed a smooth, perfect start.
“My teammates helped neutralise the attacks of everyone and brought it together for a bunch sprint. I was happy to pull it off; it was the perfect start.
“Day two went a bit pear-shaped very fast. On the second lap I found myself in a four-man breakaway with all the riders being from Imbuko Giant due to huge crosswinds.
“I knew this was far from ideal so I had to strategise and use my strengths to help me.”
He said he waited until everyone was hurting and then attacked as hard as he could in the gutter.
“I managed to get rid of two of the riders and I then knew I had to keep riding hard to ensure they wouldn’t come back. I then managed to win in the sprint for the line. I was very happy with how it went.
“Day three was also [affected by] crosswinds and we kept it together for the sprint. Perhaps I chose the wrong line for the sprint and went on the right side into the wind, but at the end of the day I was beaten by Max [Sullivan] who was simply faster than me on the day.”
Gouveris said the road race was short and since he felt good he attacked right at the beginning of the race on a climb which split a select group of riders from the bunch going past Lake Farm.
“Tristan [Nortje] from Imbuko Giant attacked and I followed. We quickly found ourselves with a big gap and drove it.
“Just over Maitlands after about 55km Adriaan [Oosthuizen] and Marco [Joubert] came across to me. We then went up 5km Hill and it was just us who went to the line. I managed to win the race in a sprint which I was very happy with.”
The Action Cycles rider felt the biggest challenge for him was trying to be consistent throughout the event and to not lose points.
“Luckily for me I had a great group of teammates who looked after me and helped me constantly through the days.”
Gouveris said getting the year started with three wins was good for his confidence.
“It boosts morale and makes you ready to tackle the season at 110%.
“Going forward, I would love to do well in the Herald Cycle Tour. I’ve always wanted to get a good result in that race. I will head down for the Cape Town Cycle Tour, so hopefully I can get a good result in one of those races too.
“I will be going to France in April – till August – to race for one of the teams there. It will be my first time going to Europe and racing there so I’m ecstatic.”