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From the A-Bunch---- Lost City


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From The Bunch


By Nigel Laver & Assc – Gavin Salzmann, Andrew Bowker, Gavin Salt).


(CANSA Lost City (Sun City - 20/08/2011) – 115km)




New Route, new distance… perhaps the organisers felt that if we went longer we wouldn’t be so “voos” on final approach… mmm, in the words of one of our fellow riders from A Bunch “Organizers have a tough job, but continue to get it wrong, This finish is notorious for crashes. Too flat to shrug the wheel suckers, so too many tired fools dreaming of glory and making silly mistakes” I could have said it better so I stole what he said, thank you Craig Barrat.




For those of us who hadn’t seen our World Cup stadium this side of the earth last year June/July, we were able to ride past it and into the local residential area – NICE! Cultural… we’re not sure about all those rumble strips and speed bumps… I know we’re fast on bicycles but for a 20km stretch the road furniture was a little unpleasant to say the least… HOWEVER, I will say this, if we get to ride this way again next year I feel there are LOTS of area’s to change a full on 60 rider full final sprint, attempting to thread 3 lanes of surging mayhem into a single lane for the timing mats flanked by moving cones. Have I given it all away in the 2nd paragraph, perhaps not… read on!




It was cold as 150 A Bunchers rolled RIGHT out of Sun City at 7:20am… that felt weird for a start… Then for most with open finger gloves (idiots) the next 20km’s was a true belief in trusting your body’s natural ability to hold on to the handle bars as all feeling in one’s finger tips were totally absent. This was totally highlighted with the bunch just trundling a long at “club ride speed” at times – I think for most of us, we had absolutely zero idea where we were headed and as a result things were pretty calm until the first of the “new” bump(s).




A lot more teams present for this the “official” start of spring 2011. A little mention about club Speke who are fast creating a name for themselves (Stephen Burns, Carin Boshoff, Nicky Greyling and co.). Happy to have you, keep coming back. New Horizon had a couple of riders of which I think Avanthodi Muyai was riding for them this time as well as Makhail Margro and Jaco Swanepoel (and one other?). Lots of single “no-team” riders willing to give it, also mention to: brand new to A Bunch Mr Jaco Coetzee who we mentioned from Carousel. He has worked his way through Open Seeded. His first A bunch race was Carousel which he flipping won!! Guess who too has a balls eye on his jersey now. And a new lean and mean Bionic Club member – Casper – noted for some long pulls and hard work on the front on the day – but involved in the crash at the end.




With the points rankings, many riders now have great big targets on their backs including the team of one Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden) and Andrew Bowker (VO Bionic) who can’t go anywhere without a lot of attention (I’m taking about up the road in an A Bunch race, not like down the shops like celebrity like). Clearly Mike Hewan heard my call last couple of weeks and sent Desmond Myburgh from Complete Cyclist hoping to keep Trevor Davies great results up (Trevor, where are you mate?). Desmond had help in the aid of the tall pillars of Complete Cyclist duo Craig Barrat and Ian Henderson who did some great turns up front. Oh course Esmero pulled some riders together to assist point’s leader Pieter Avenant. Seems like Kurt Geneapril who was the only rider free from fasting. Burt Geldenhys making a pleasant appearance.




What could Toyota Cycle Lab do with their ace sprinter and highest points scorer out till 2012 and the other expecting a baby and thus not present – All the best for this week Chopstar!! The Duo of C&C Spar of Bennie Viljoen and Gavin Salzmann are for sure a team with some fire power. Has Gerhard Fouche (MTN) an alligh in Gordon Rose or have they not even figured out who’s riding for whom as yet? (You guys should chat, seriously). My Gas team of Werner Roux and Brendan Thompson not entirely present for all the road races but that’s no reason to ignore them, trust me, they’ve been riding (Congrats for a GREAT result at Trans Baviaans 240km!! – where is MR Mallaindain?)




Ok, so, some of the action started on a new climb as we turned right round a traffic circle and a nice steady climb started. I think most of A Bunch was thawed out by now and the climbers (Gavin Salt VO Bionic, and Makhail Margro New Horizon) went up the roads easily and naturally, Gavin Salzmann (C&C Spar) over the top first winning the hotspot and Avantodi Munyai (Hew Horizons) on his wheel. A couple of other riders attacked which spread the bunch out for the first time (next year, opportunity point 1). There is a fast downhill shortly after so enough time to get back if you’re off. As we turned right towards the Stadium passing it on our left, there was a series of right, left, right and another short sharp climb (2012, opp. 2). Again, followed by a long downhill, but then followed by a left, and right along the side of a railway track, then left over that railway track (2012, opp. 3). This year, we chased the train to make sure we didn’t experience our own Tom Boonan (Pari Roubaux 2009, was it?) when he was stopped by the train crossing. We made it – phew! There were a lot of major speed humps and rumble strips. A problem for a bunch, but I think given the right combination a break could get away somewhere here (hint, 2012 opp 3)




Another little left right left through some residential area about 20km’s later which led onto the back of the first familiar part, the Quarry road (the old routes big split opportunity) – the other way round is a lot less harsh. Down that side going the opposite way than the old route and onto the last 35km straight back to the finish. We all assumed that the route change was to avoid the main drag back to Sun City from a safety point of view? Needless to say perhaps it was more for good PR taking the race past the Stadium A) and too the “people” B).




So, Ja, some action happened prior to this point. I can tell you that Stuart Fitzpatrick and Casper (Bionic) and Gerhard Fouche and mostly the front people pulling the bunch. Some single riders who’ll we’ll get to know I’m sure also willing to pull the bunch along. Even our current Lady A Buncher Carin Boshoff got off the front... Roger Drok (VO Bionic) gave her a bit of space then chased her down... not too fast so she felt like she was away for a while at least.




From the final left turn onto the Sun City road, the race would hot up. Perfect opportunity is now a long drag which used to be a recovery part coming the other way. Doesn’t look like much but at that stage of the race the right amount of pressure would create a split, or put the bunch under major pressure or which happened, riders were away and clear.




The first start of any break started with Andrew Bowker (Bionic), then Werner Roux (My Gas) came, they went hard, pulled a gap with Gavin Salzmann (C&C Spar) on his wheel, Jaco Swanepoel (New Horizons) and 1 other. Gavin Salt (VO Bionic) rode across with another rider, then Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden) rode across with another. This was a power breakaway up the drag, the pace was very hard. Pieter Avenant and Grant Page (Toyota Cycle Lab) closed this break down in the end. The pace then slowed for a couple km’s then Gordon Rose attacked with Gavin Salt on his wheel. They got a few hundred meters gap then Gordon popped and dropped back. Werner saw this and attacked with Justin Winn on his wheel. They gradually closed the gap to Gavin and then linked on and road away as a 3-some (I thought 2-some).




Me thinks, most of the bunch thought we were all together. Stuart knew he missed the move but didn’t have all the fire power to bring it back on his own. Gerhard Fouche did his usual diesel powered pull back but clearly Werner and Justin were for a while faster than the full might of the bunch. As they snuck in front of smaller groups they sometimes got out of site... never mind Gavin Salt who up until the finish we (I) thought was in the bunch – he was clearly out of site but apparently with Werner and Justin (It was Justin’s tall body I noticed more as they snuck in and out of slower groups). Andrew Bowker sitting pretty knowing Gavin was up the road, and would at least get a top 2 for Bionic of they stayed away. Gordon Rose and Nigel Laver (to get his top sprinter Grant Page into the frame) would attempt to pull on the front at times but the gap was stretching out until we started the final climb to the finish. Then it started to reel in FAST!




We had the ladies elite cars and bunch to deal with (inside of 2km’s), all the while the pace was getting higher and higher, single riders, and team riders all trying to pull back the lead 3 (which we thought was 2).




New horizons had 3 guys on the front with about 3 km to go – Jaco doing a very long turn, trying to chase down the break. Avantodi sitting in second wheel waiting to pounce. They just didn’t have enough fire power to close the gap.




From here onwards, lets here from Gavin Salzmann’s (C&C Spar) point of view:




“Coming into the final 4km I was on the left of the bunch, within the first 15 riders, Andrew on my right in the middle of the bunch, Stuart in front of Andrew and Peter Avenant somewhere over on the right hand side of the bunch two or three bike lengths back, Avhantodi was 5 bikes in front of me and Bennie on his wheel, there was a New Horizon rider on the front.




I held my position knowing if I moved to the front to early I would be a sitting duck. There was rotation at the front, but everyone around me held their positions, When we caught the Elite Ladies, the guys in front accelerated, some of the front riders started to slide back on the left side of the bunch, Andrew moved over from the middle of the bunch to the right, and it opened a gap for me to slide into his spot, With a km to go we were in the top 6- 8 riders, Peter moved up on the outside of the bunch and was sitting in front of Andrew, and I was on Andrew’s wheel, this was the perfect spot for me.




With about 500m to go Peter opened the sprint going past on the right hand side, I think he was chasing the front 3 riders now in sight, with Andrew on his wheel, but the wind slowed Peter, There was a rider coming passed from behind starting his sprint as soon as Peter slowed down, as well as an acceleration on the left, Andrew had no choice but to take the rider passing on the right’s wheel, with 400m to go I was lying 3rd in that train, 350m to go Andrew was in the wind and started his sprint with me following him and there was a sprint starting on the left, which left Avhantodi and Bennie open in the middle of the two trains they were sitting in the front 4 since 500m to go, with 200m to go Stephan Burns (Speke), started his sprint on the left and opened a gap of about 5 bike lengths , at the same time I started my sprinted around Andrew, trying to close the gap on Stephan , I went over the line with Stephan a bike length in front of me and Timothy Thijs, passing me in the final 40m to take 5th with half a bike length, Avanthodi and Bennie on my wheel”




Wow, what an account of the final sprint. The bunch got within 5 seconds of the lead 3. Sounds like Gavin Salt started the sprint, Werner was able to come over the top to take 1st place with Justin Winn just behind the two of them and keeping 3rd from a charging Stephan Burns 4th, Timothy Thijs 5th, followed by Gavin Salzmann and Avantodi Muyai 6th and 7th respectively, Andrew does not reflect on the results but ended behind Bennie Viljoen in the sprint, who shared 8th place with Jaco Coetzee.




Well done Werner Roux (My Gas), winning time 2:52:32, well done to Gavin Salt (VO Bionic) for staying away and congratulations to Justin Winn – great cover, great stay away.




BTW: A bunch was faster than VA this year… now I’ve bragged about this before at this race in previous years. A couple of big guns missing in VA currently but hey, we’ll take the accolade none the less. For those that hung on, well done, this should help your Argus Seeding!




A note to the riders behind me on final approach. I know I caused absolute carnage within 3km’s – so sorry. I hope you guys (or gals) are all ok. To the riders post 20th who went down on the line and almost popped their bikes into the Champion Chip van. WOW, what a race hey, I trust you didn’t injure yourself too much… Never mind the leading Lady Elite Lynette Burger screaming for space as she tried to find a clean line across the mat to her victory!




Organizers, you almost timed it to perfection. If we were slower than VA we may not have caught the ladies. I think we need to start in front of them. I know it makes no sense to CSA and CGC but for safety, we should always (and VC’s taboo).




A Bunch on Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/Abunch




Next AL Round: D2D (less any Dome’s) – 4th September 2011




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






So, our official “unofficial” rider/team rankings are getting interesting: Pieter Avenant (Esmero) and Stuart Fitzpatrick (Linden) each scoring a point but Pieter staying at the top of the rankings. Gavin Salzmann (C&C Spar) 6th place gets himself 6 points making Pieter Avenant on 58, Stuart Fitzpatrick on 56 and Gavin Salzmann on 55 trailing only 4 points to 1st (and 2 to 2nd). With Werner Roux’s (My Gas) miraculous disappearing act with Gavin Salt and Justin Winn, his 1st place (and we almost caught you, you buggers) and full points leap frogs Werner from 8th to knocking (very loudly) on podium position in 4th at 49 points. Gavin Salt, coming from oblivion (in 14th), now into the top 10… More of that Coach Salty!! With all the hills coming up... I feel Werner Roux, Andrew Bowker, Gavin Salt and Gavin Salzmann could walk away with this..How are your climbing legs Pieter Avenant?


On the team side Bionic is the biggest winner over recent weeks climbing from 8th spot (after Wilro) to second on the log in the last few races thanks to a flurry of top ten results from Andrew Bowker and Gavin Salt, Cycle Lab with no points from Lost City needs to relook at their strategy with some of the hillier races coming.


Results found here (www.championchip.co.za) http://za.onreg.com/results/index.php?File=results_search.php&DataID=1380&Show=SearchResults

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