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From the A- Bunch---------------Carousel


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From The Bunch


By Nigel Laver & Assc.


(Sungardens Carousel Classic (Carousel Casino – Woman’s Day 9th August 2011)




So, no doubt I’ll attempt to say something completely different to what I’ve been saying this time every year for the last how many years? I’ll totally resist the temptation to lead with “It’s the first official race to the kick off the end of the 2011 season and the run towards the Gauteng champs in November”. I’ll totally ignore the fact that it was an early morning for most of us (except Bennie coming from miles away) and I’ll resist the urge to rag the guys and girls who waited for 40mins at the first off ramp, you should know by now to go to the next turn off 2km’s down the N1 and come back :o)




So, I’ll start here... Seems like A bunch was ready to kick start the second season for 2011 at this year’s Sungardens Carousel Classic. Lots of the faces we raced with in the first part of the year present then a couple of pleasant surprises... Wow, aren’t we honoured, the return of one Mr Gordon “Gorgeous” Rose (now sporting yellow MTN kit) and a quiet and potentially hiding or staying out of trouble Trevor Moroney (old Bionic kit) - apparently punctured 3km’s out, ouch, that’s a long way to go for a puncture. Welcome back you two anyway – glad to have you back in the flock. Gordon sure made his presence known with a puncture on the line with 2min’s to go... Well done to the Bionic Man Jay Spendley who changed it with 15sec to spare! Gordon’s adrenaline sure surging as he bugged off up the road after Gavin Salt (VO Bionic) in the first 1km!!




106 A bunch starters, 110km out and back route, it’s a flat race, right up to the point where it isn’t. Just before the turn around there is a series of bumps that with the right amount of pressure added can get riders off the front and clear for potential win. Definitely a tactical race for the teams and racers present. For the other 70 odd riders, some good seeding and perhaps to highlight where they are after a hibernating winter OR a rigid winter training programme.




After Wilro (April 2011), the individual rider standings for the official “unofficial” points system for A bunch were as follows: Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden Cycles) in the lead with 47 points, 2 points clear of Trevor Davies (Complete Cyclist), Jay Spendley (Toyota Cycle Lab) 1 point down from that. In the flanks and near enough to take a couple of positions if riders don’t pitch or don’t score high are: Gavin Salzmann (C&C Spar), Riaan La C@ck (Toyota Cycle Lab) and Pieter Avenant (Esmero) with as little as 8 points between them from a podium place. The team rankings seem a little less volatile and may actually reflect more the number of consistent point scoring riders in one team as opposed to their sheer brilliance... However, I’ll be the first to blow our own trumpet... the position that Riaan received on the line at the end of this 110km doesn’t tell the whole team story. Allow me to unpack a little of it later :o)




Draw a little 3 sided square in your brain, 2 right hander’s out, one hairpin return point midway and 2 left hander’s return plus 1 entry into the Casino entrance/parking. That makes 6 sections, would you all agree on the thinking? Not much going on on section 1 (sorry Gavin and Gordon) except perhaps our determinedness to pass the ladies before the first right hander which we did with about 50m to spare *tongue out of mouth emoticon* and a “told you” dance... I know, I’ll grow up one day, I’m sure?




Section 2: Believe it or not, in total disregard of the imposing potential split that would automatically happen midway, a couple of riders were very aggressive on this part. Those riders would be Andrew Bowker and Gavin Salt (VO Bionic), Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden), Pieter Avenant (Esmero). Cycle Lab riders Grant Page, Riaan La C@ck, Nigel Laver, Paul Nothnagel (Toyota Lab club) and Gerhard Fouche (MTN) making sure all of those breaks were neutralised before the start of section 3. Well, kind of neutralised, Pieter Avenant (Esmero) still up the road on this section. The first little bump shortly after the right turn Stuart Fitzpatrick hit the tar just to witness that it is indeed softer than hitting the dirt in a MTB race, hey Stu?




On the climb up to the turn point, Gavin Salt (VO Bionic) went away with Andrew Bowker (VO Bionic) on his wheel, tall Paul Burger (Complete Cyclist) followed. Gavin Salzmann (C&C Spar) making sure of the move then bridging and connecting 3rd of the way up followed by Dylan Benson (Cycle Lab Jnr). Gavin Salt putting all his earlier attacks into effectiveness now and drove this break up the hill. Pieter Avenant (Esmero) was finally caught just before the turn, shouting “where have you been, thought you were going to catch me long time ago”.




The break quickly grouped and were rolling through like slick images of a team time trial just a couple of weeks ago on the telly in France. Everyone working well together to make the break survive knowing full well it’s come back in the past and is not as safe as it seems midway.




A little further back must have been Gerhard Fouche (MTN) attempting to bridge with Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden) clearly suffering a little from his fall, Jaco Coetzee (blue Highveld kit). Then still further back (and I’d even say, A LOT further back) was a chase group with all of Toyota Cycle Lab’s hope for point scoring on the day.




A group of Riaan La C@ck, Grant Page, Nigel Laver (Toyota Lab), Martin Brevtenbach and Carin Boshoff (Speke), Bennie Viljoen (C&C Spar), potentially it could be Nathan Thompson (Adventure Kit) plus the rest of the riders in the top 21 (besides Graham Miller (Lab club) who was picked up on section 5 (just after the 1st left turn back). This group (let’s call it chase group 2), and I’ll harp on it for a little while, worked like absolute Trojan’s to get back into a winning frame. It would have been at least a 30km effort to hook back onto the leaders. Special mention goes to Carin, a lady, if you didn’t realize, who worked us men like Mules (Woman’s day Liberties) … the most dominant rider in the chase bunch AND Grant Page who’s found his racing voice (Thank God, now I can shut up) rallying up the troops to work as a speeding bullet unit!!




The leading break caught a few VC on Section 4 just before the 1st left hander back. This was probably when the chase groups made their most gains as the addition to the group with the VC’s slowed things down and ultimately halted the getaway. Gavin Salt and Andrew Bowker trying to keep the break alive. Gavin Salzmann with an idea to jump off the front with Gavin and Andrew to break the strangle hold but he’d have no takers yet. As the break turned left on to section 5, chase group 1 made it back with the leaders. This would unit Gerhard Fouche (MTN), Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden) and Jaco Coetzee (Highveld?) with Gavin Salt (VO Bionic), Gavin Salzmann (C&C Spar), Paul Burger (Complete Cyclist), Dylan Benson (Lab Jnr) and Pieter Avenant (Esmero). This group didn’t quite keep the momentum and pull through of a surviving break and as a result either riders sitting pretty to conserve energy OR had nothing to offer.




On Section 5 after a couple of attacks from Gavin Salt and Andrew Bowker (VO Bionic), Gavin Salzmann (C&C Spar) finally found an alligh in Pieter Avenant (Esmero) to make a move of the front and after Pieter put in a massive counter attack to one of the VO Bionic series of attacks, he broke away and Gavin Salzmann noticing no-one had the impetus to bridge, he left a little gap then sprung across. The duo broke away on this section with about 30km’s to go.




A little after that on the same section 5, the group containing Riaan La C@ck and Bennie Viljoen latched onto to what they thought was the leading group. Only to learn very quickly that Pieter Avenant and Gavin Salzmann were GONE! Grant Page using his newly found vocal abilities realized he still had to get his sprinter into a winning frame after pulling himself (and everyone else in chase group 2) inside out bridging to what we all thought was the front of the race.




The chase was now on. VO Bionic and Linden realizing they too needed to assist Cycle Lab (or what was left of it) and any other single rider with podium hopes. As a result, the duo were caught with just 5km’s to go. Bummer for Pieter and Gavin Salzmann but congrats for your continued efforts to stay clear!!




As the chase bunch caught the lead duo the counters came thick and fast. Gavin Salzmann and Pieter Avenant managing to hold onto all of the surges to recover for another go later. Paul Burger (Complete Cyclist) very aggressive on the last section putting in massive attacks to soften the bunch up. One of his last attacks came near the entrance into Carousel, this stretched everyone out, and when they went through the gates Peter Avenant was up front and accelerated out of the final corner onto the straight.




Jay Spendley sitting on the line witnessed that the first 3 riders had a gap on the rest of the bunch, so that must have meant that Jaco Coetzee (Highveld?), Pieter Avenant (Esmero) and Riaan La C@ck (Toyota Cycle Lab) were gunning for the line. Riaan swerving to avoid a middle distance finisher between the boom and the line but that wouldn’t affect the outcome. All 3 jockeying for the line with Jaco Coetzee eventually pippin Pieter and Riaan (in that order) for 1st with winning time of 2:44:53!




According to our local “stat-guy” Gavin Salt, this was AL’s 2nd fastest time to-date, the fastest so far was set in 2006 when Gabriel (is that Gawie?) Combrink won in a smoking time of 2:38 (Yikes!) and some old named favourites from A bunch in that final sprint: Paul Burger 4th on that occasion, Izaak “De Wet” Goosen 6th, Rory Farmer 8th, Adolf Krige 9th, Pieter Avenant 12th and Sam Dansie 14th. Blast from the past!!




However, our top 20 this year were all inside 9 seconds – Bennie Viljoen (C&C Spar) who suffered with Riaan to get back into the frame finished joint 4th with Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden) who again, his result doesn’t reflect his effort. Andrew Bowker and Gerhard Fouche finishing in the top 10 after their gallant efforts. Paul Burger hanging on to 9th for his aggressive efforts at the end. Gavin Salzmann hanging on to a respectable 10th but I’m sure was deserved to stay away. Gavin Salt in the fray but I know his efforts would be done to have Andrew Bowker finish in front of him.




Wow, what a race hey!! Phew, that sure got everyone’s cylinders firing!! It would seem a little alliance between Linden and VO Bionic forming… let’s see how that pans out as the season progresses. More VO Bionic riders scheduled to come back soon I’m sure. Gerhard, you might have some help with Gordon sometime soon if he stays in yellow. Complete Cyclist I know will have full numbers as the season progresses… lots of baby making in that team past and present. If Paul Burger stays as Complete Cyclist (as opposed to the defunked Harmony) then the duo of Trevor and Paul will be a force. Cycle Lab a little lost with their top points scorer out however Riaan La C@ck will fill the gap on the flat races. Grant, you better get those climbing legs out soon.




Congrats to Paul Nothnagal (Toyota Cycle Lab club), bringing in the 2nd bunch 2:50:34. Thank you to all that contributed to this report (Gavin x 2, Andrew, Jay, Grant, Stuart, Gerhard, Pieter)!




A Bunch on Facebook – The link for your Mobile and PC: http://m.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_152156814821503&fbb=r57df6dc6&refid=27






Next AL Round: EPR 13th, Lost City 20th August




Video Interview: Check Out the A Bunch FB site for Video Interviews post sprint (when I get them up)




Points: I’ll update on each race report.




Results found here (www.championchip.co.za “latest results / Sungardens Carousel, batches = AL):

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