So the latest news I can report… I have been given the biggest opportunity of my life. Thanks to Bonitas Pro Cycling’s international Aspire program, I was able to stretch my legs in Europe and try get results in order to get noticed by bigger European pro teams. This made it possible for Robbie Hunter of Pro Touch Global, my recruitment agent to acquire me a stagiare (trainee) position on the World Tour Garmin-Sharp Pro Cycling Team.
I started with the team on 1 August 2014 and did the Tour de L’ain UCI 2.1 in France from 12-16 August 2014 as my first race. It was the most incredible racing experience I’ve had to date in my cycling career. I enjoyed every minute of it. The way the team operates and the people involved was the highlight for me. The only thing I had to worry about was pedaling and doing my job given before the start of each stage. I did exactly what I was told and tried to assist elsewhere where I could.
We finished the Tour de L’ain with some decent results. Stage 1 was a 4.5km prologue and our best finisher was Tom Jelte Slagter in 10th. Stage 2 we won in the sprint with Raymond Kreder. Stage 3 our best finisher was Raymond Kreder again in the sprint in 7th. Stage 4 our best was Dan Martin in 3rd. Finally on Stage 5 our best again was Dan Martin in 2nd. Dan Martin finished best on GC in a respectable 3rd place.
Directly after finishing Tour de L’ain, I flew to Girona, Spain where I am based until the end of my stagiare endeavor. My next race with the team is the Friends Life Tour of Britain UCI 2.HC which takes place on 7-14 September 2014. My form should be at it’s best by then and I will do my utmost to help the team and possibly get a result if I can. I am very motivated and excited for whatever comes next.
I would make a terrible “blogger” as I haven’t made any new posts in over a year on this blog. Mind you, all my other areas of my blog are 100% up to date. International racing, Cycling achievements, Sponsors, My bike etc… A lot has happened in the past year. I won quite a few races toward the end of 2013 which can be seen on my Cycling achievements page. I also joined Bonitas Pro Cycling team for 2014 as you can see. Thus far my season has gained momentum and I have managed to grab some good results during the time Iv’e spent so far in Europe. Arrived here on April 15. I am still here in France for another 2 weeks and have 2 Tours and 1 Crit left to race which I hope to do well in. Once back in S.A. there will be about a month of little to no racing. Then the 2nd half of the S.A. racing season kicks off with the famous Jock Cycle Classic which will be a nice eye-opener for everyone. I hope to post some more race reports with good news in the near future.
The earliest and freshest start to this year’s Mzanzi Tour on familiar roads to those living in Gauteng. Starting at Monte Casino, heading out to the Cradle of Mankind where 3 gruelling laps would test the riders abilities before heading back to the finish at Monte Casino.
After a 7km neutral zone, the racing got under way and the pace was HOT with many riders trying to force a break-away. The SA National team kept things together all the way to the Cradle of Mankind, where a break-away of 9 riders managed to break free.
The break consisted of Neil Mcdonald(Fedgroup), JC Nel(MTN), Jason Bakke(La Pomme), Luthando Kaka(Bonitas), Hichem Chaabane(Velo Club Sovak), 1 Nippo, 1 Rad-Net Rose’, 1 WCC and Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC).
The break worked well together for the first half of lap 1 until the time gap was up to 4 minutes to the chasing group. This is when Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) attacked, along with JC Nel(MTN) and the duo opened up a small gap on the break. JC Nel(MTN) took the points and time bonus at the Hotspot and the duo got brought back shortly after.
The break resumed working together until half way through the 2nd lap where some of the riders started skipping turns and sitting on. Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) was not happy with this and attacked again. Hichem Chaabane(Velo Club Sovak) followed and the 2 put their heads down and worked together. At this stage there was 55km to go, a tall ask for 2 riders to make it to the line with a chasing bunch behind them.
The time gap opened up to 1min30 between the break and the 2 escapees. The bunch was chasing hard under the control of La Pomme. With 30 km to go the bunch was only 2 minutes behind the break and 3 minutes behind the Westvaal-BMC, Velo Club Sovak duo, both riders giving everything in a race to the line.
With 10km to go, the break was caught and the bunch was but 1min05 behind the 2 leaders on the road. Victory was on a very thin line at this stage. La Pomme was chasing flat out and obliterated a lot of the riders in the bunch. 5km to go and the gap was 55 seconds, which started looking positive for Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) and Chaabane(Velo Club Sovak). The 2 riders were on the limit, struggling to keep the speed up as they approached Monte Casino. With 3km to go it was only 30 seconds to the bunch.
Waylon Woolcock(Bonitas) and Estifanos Kebede(MTN) managed to break free from the speeding bunch and started closing the gap rapidly to the 2 leaders, but the leading duo saw what was happening behind and did not miss a beat in a race for that finish line, waiting until the last 300m before battling it out for the win.
Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) kicked first and got a gap on Hichem Chaabane(Velo Club Sovak) giving himself a convincing win over the line. Hichem Chaabane(Velo Club Sovak) held on to 2nd, Waylon Woolcock(Fedgroup) took 3rd and Estifanos Kebede(MTN) 4th. The bunch came in only 20 seconds behind the winner. Robert Hunter(SA National team) won the bunch sprint for 5th.
An unbelievable achievement for Dylan Girdlestone and result for Team Westvaal-BMC. The team rode like true professionals in achieving this result. Riding for Dylan the entire tour for his GC position of 8th overall and then a stage win on top of that. A very successful tour from “The little team that could”.
Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour
The big day has arrived for Team Westvaal-BMC, the year’s most important one day race in South Africa. The conditions couldn’t have been any better, a 14km/h East South East breeze and clear blue skies.
The first 15km were very tense as the wind was gusty and the riders were nervous. Attacks were going left right and centre. Nico Thiart(Westvaal-BMC) and Simphiwe Mhlakaza(Westvaal-BMC) were thick in the action and keeping things together.
At about the 17km mark, Willie Smit of Bonitas got a gap on the bunch, shortly followed by Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC). The duo worked well together and slowly opened their lead. Attacks continued off the front of the bunch as none of the teams wanted to commit to chasing due to the block head wind.
The time gap was around 1 minute at the bottom of Smitswinkel. MTN Qhubeka then put the pressure on and reeled the break away in. As we got to the summit, Willie Smit(Bonitas) and Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC) were caught and a counter attack went immediately from Dan Craven(Synergy Baku). The bigger teams all followed but the combination was not ideal and half of the riders didn’t want to drive the break. After about 5km, everything came back together.
MTN Qhubeka put the pressure on again as we turned right into a gutter wind and the bunch shattered. All the main contenders were present in the front split though. We then turned right again into another head wind and everyone came back again.
As we hit the base of Chapman’s Peak, Dusty Day(Westvaal-BMC) punctured. The pace was hard and he was unable to make it back into the front of the race. The bunch was down to about 50 riders at the summit. We then plummeted down into Hout Bay, where there was a crash mid-field. A lot of riders went down.
The pace was hot up Suikerbossie and the race exploded. Only 27 riders went over the summit in the front group. All the main teams were present. Bonitas had 6 riders, Nu Water had 2, MTN Qhubeka had 4, Omega Pharma Quickstep had 3, Tasol-GT had 2, Westvaal-BMC had Dylan Girdlestone, Shaun-Nick Bester and Tyler Day. The rest were individual riders.
Attack after attack was the name of the game for Omega-Pharma Quickstep and MTN Qhubeka. The rest just followed in an attempt to keep things together for a bunch sprint. With 7km to go Julien Vermote(Omega-Pharma Quickstep) and JC Nel(MTN Qhubeka) got a gap.
Team’s Bonitas, Tasol-GT and Nu Water hesitated to chase, so Shaun-Nick Bester(Westvaal-BMC) and Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) started chasing, slowly bringing the leading duo back. With 3km to go, Julien Vermote(Omega-Pharma Quickstep) attacked JC Nel of MTN Qhubeka in an attempt to solo to the line.
With 1km to go, Bonitas started their sprint lead out. At 400m to go Tyler Day(Westvaal-BMC) initiated the sprint kick as he was worried that the Omega-Pharma Quickstep rider was not going to be caught before the line. Julien Vermote(Omega-Pharma Quickstep) was caught only 100m from the line. Tyler Day’s early kick resulted in him losing steam metres before the line. Herman Fouche(Bonitas) won the race literally centimetres ahead of Tyler Day(Westvaal-BMC). Christoff van Heerden(Bonitas) took 3rd, Iljo Keisse(Omega-Pharma Quickstep) 4th and Johan Rabie 5th.
All in all a successful day for Team Westvaal-BMC, having Donovan Lubbe in the break for almost an hour and of course Tyler Day’s 2nd overall. It’s just really disappointing to lose by such a small margin after so much careful and dedicated preparation. Then again, you can’t win them all.
At 6am sharp, the annual Macsteel Carnival City 154km Classic started with a bang. All the Elite & U23 pro teams were present and eager to race with many attacks going right from the start.
The speed was very high, yet the attacks continued, but due to the flat and downhill first 30km or so, nothing was able to go clear. As usual Team Westvaal-BMC had riders Simphiwe Mhlakaza, Nico Thiart and Donovan lubbe thick in the action.
As the bunch approached the 1st Hotspot, a rider from Team Complete Cyclist attacked and got a gap with 1km to the Hotspot at 51km. Team Westvaal-BMC then took control in a planned lead-out for Shaun-Nick Bester to take the Hotspot. The escapee was caught meters from the line and Shaun-Nick Bester(Westvaal-BMC) took the Hotspot honors.
Immediately after the Hotspot, flurries of attacks were put in by Team’s Bonitas, Tasol-GT, Europcar and ASG, but the speed was still too high and nothing succeeded.
The racing was positive until the 85km mark where a group consisting of Johan Rabie and David Maree of Tasol-GT, Calvin Beneke and an Ethiopian of MTN-Qhubeka, Christoff van Heerden, Pieter Seyfert, Herman fouche and Christopher Jennings of Bonitas, Tyler Day and Dylan Girdlestone of Westvaal-BMC got away.
The break-away group opened up a gap of a minute in no time. The combination was not good for Team Westvaal-BMC and MTN Qhubeka and so they gave the order to chase from the peloton and bring the break-away back. ASG also assisted in the pursuit.
The break-away eventually got caught at 130km, 3km before the 2nd hotspot which was then taken by David Maree(Tasol-GT). Shortly after that another break got away. The group consisted of Nic Dougal and 3 Eritreans from MTN, Clint Hendriks(Bonitas), David Maree(Tasol-GT), Paul van Zweel(Europcar) and Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) Only MTN and Tasol-GT drove the break-away. Teams Westvaal-BMC and Bonitas resourced to attack rather than help in order to slow the speed.
As the break was caught with 4km to go, Nic Dougal(MTN) broke away solo, leaving Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) to give chase and bring him back before the line so Westvaal-BMC sprinter Tyler Day could do what he does best.
Nic Dougal(MTN) was caught 500m to go and it was then a dash to the line for the remainder of the bunch. Tyler Day(Westvaal-BMC) pulled through and took a comfortable win ahead of Johan Rabie(Tasol-GT) in 2nd and Ian Mcloed(Solo) in 3rd.
Dischem Ride for Sight
So today started off with a chill in the air, which is usual for this race for some reason. Not for long because once the race started, the pace was hot, averaging over 50km/h for the first 30 minutes. Riders were scrambling to their team cars to hand in jackets and arm warmers.
The first 50km was chaotic due to the high speed, wind, many attacks, potholes and debris on the road. All the teams had their hand at attacking and making an attempt to get away to no avail. Westvaal-BMC riders Nico Thiart and Simphiwe Mhlakaza did a sterling job at being represented in every move. As we passed by the Suikerbosrand nature reserve, Team Bonitas forced a gutter in an attempt to break up the peloton. This worked and the group was halved.
Almost immediately after, as we turned left, more into the wind, the young MTN Qhubeka team tried the same tactic, but the angle of the wind was not good for them and it did not do much damage as teams behind them had enough shelter from the wind and so they eventually eased up. At this stage it was a direct head wind and none of the teams wanted to commit to setting the pace.
Kellan Gouveris(Tasol-GT) and Dirkie Nel(Europcar) then made a combined attack and got a gap on the bunch. This sparked the attacking yet again, and Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC) kicked into action putting in numerous attacks and making sure nobody else got away without Westvaal-BMC being present.
About 5km later the leading duo were caught and another move went consisting of Myles van Musschenbroek(Tasol-GT), Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC), Christopher Jennings(Bonitas), Nic Dougal(MTN) and Stuart Fitzpatric(Europcar). This was a good combination, and most of the teams were happy to let the move gain some time. The 5 riders worked well together and slowly got the gap to about 50 seconds at Heidelberg climb. At this stage there was about 35km to go.
Ian Mcloed(Solo) and Pieter Seyfert(Bonitas) had broken away from the bunch on Heidelberg climb and bridged the gap to the breakaway 2km after the summit. This upset the balance of the breakaway group with there now being 2 Bonitas riders.
With 25km to go, Ian Mcloed(Solo) attacked. Pieter Seyfert(Bonitas) and Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) followed and the trio opened up a large gap. Seyfert(Bonitas) was instructed not to work with Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) and Mcloed(Solo). The 2 riders worked equally together while Seyfert(Bonitas) sat on.
The time gap opened to 1 minute. MTN Qhubeka and Bonitas then started chasing hard with 15km to go. With 5km to go, the gap was down to 25 seconds with the 2 super teams chasing franticly. Mcloed(Solo) and Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) gave it everything to make it to the line before the bunch.
The break-away succeeded! Pieter Seyfert(Bonitas) took the win from Ian Mcloed(Solo) in 2nd and Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) in 3rd.
The storming bunch came in 10 seconds later. Tyler Day(Westvaal-BMC) won the bunch sprint taking 4th, beating Herman Fouche(Bonitas) in 5th and Arran Brown in 6th.
A very successful day for Team Westvaal-BMC not only in results, but also in team discipline as every single rider gave 110% for the good of the team from Nico Thiart and Simphiwe Mhlakaza covering all the moves in the beginning, to Donovan Lubbe showing some good form in the middle and Dylan Girdlestone being in the winning break and finally Shaun-Nick Bester and Dusty Day executing a well-planned, perfect sprint lead out for Tyler Day.
Berg en Dale 97km Classic
After a night of thunderstorms clear skies at the start of today’s Berg en Dale 97km Classic was much appreciated by all competitors. Most of SA’s top teams were represented at the start excluding MTN and NuWater. With the start going straight up Krugersdorp hill, it was very important to do a proper warm up ride beforehand. Team Westvaal-BMC used stationary trainer’s to do a 30 minute warm up.
Bang went the gun at 06:05 and the race was on with ASG setting the pace in an attempt to shake off those who did not warm up properly. After the summit, the various teams started attacking. Team Bonitas then took control and made sure nobody was getting away easily. The speed was incredible, reaching around 90km/h down Sterkfontein hill.
The attacking stopped for a while until Bonitas eased the pace. This is when Peter-Lee Jefereys(Europcar) attacked and got a gap, soon followed by Ruan Du Plooy(ASG) and finally Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC). The trio eventually got together and started working equally. The gap increased as Bonitas settled into an uncomfortable tempo.
The 3 leaders slowly opened the gap to about 1 minute. Bonitas then held them at that distance to make it easier for them to control, yet more difficult for someone in the bunch to jump across. The 9 man strong team controlled the race for about 75% of the distance. Very few attacks were made by anyone until 20km to go. Europcar, ASG, Tasol-GT and a few others started attacking and the time gap to the leading trio plummeted.
It was now close enough to bridge the gap and became a free for all until the breakaway was caught with 15km to go. Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC) managed to take the KOM on the road before being caught. Attacks went off the front from all teams. Pieter Seyfert(Bonitas) took the Hotspot at 10km to go. The final few kilometres were a gruelling drag up the N14. Bonitas had a full leadout going up the final 2km with the rest of the teams riding off them.
Herman Fouche(Bonitas) snatched the win from Johan Rabie(Tasol-GT) in 2nd and Hanco Kachelhoffer(Bonitas) in 3rd. The young talent of Shaun-Nick Bester(Westvaal-BMC) took 4th, and another young talented Wesley Eslick(ASG) claimed 5th.
Overall it was a positive day for Team Westvaal-BMC, having a rider in the break for most of the race, improving on echelon riding as a team in gutters and tight spaces and finishing off with a 4th, only inches from a top 3.
Edenvale 117km Cycle Classic
Today the racing got underway with a few owls still in the sky at 5:30 sharp with a 3km neutral zone for the Elite & U23 riders to wake up.
As soon as the neutral zone had ended there were attacks going off the front of the relatively large peloton. The instigators being Team MTN WCC and Team ASG. Team Westvaal-BMC’s Simphiwe Mhalakaza, Donovan Lubbe, Tyler Day and Shaun-Nick Bester got stuck in the action and no move was missed.
At the 10km mark, a dangerous move had made way 20 seconds up the road consisting of Ryan Gibbons(MTN), Nic Dougall(MTN), Till Drobisch(MTN), Rian Gouws(ASG), Dirkie Nel(Europcar) and Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC).
Within the next 5km another small group consisting of another 2 MTN WCC riders, JC Nel(MTN), 1 Europcar rider, Nico Thiart(Westvaal-BMC) and Dusty Day(Westvaal-BMC) bridged across to make a up a 12 man break-away group.
Within no time, 5 MTN, both Europcar and 2 Westvaal-BMC riders started working together to extend the time gap whilst Rian Gouws(ASG), Dusty Day(Westvaal-BMC) and Ryan Gibbons(MTN) sat on for an easier ride in preparation for a sprint finish.
The time gap slowly opened as the 9 man train worked together. The odd teams back in the bunch were chasing franticly making it that much harder for the break to succeed with the time gap hovering around 2 minutes. The time trial efforts went on until the 80km mark and the time gap was around 3 minutes by this stage.
As the drags started on Delmas road, MTN WCC started attacking, shaking off Dirkie Nel(Europcar), Nico Thiart(Westvaal-BMC) and 1 MTN WCC, leaving 5 MTN WCC, 2 Westvaal-BMC, 1 ASG and 1 Europcar. At the 90km mark on Cornwill Hill, MTN WCC went on the attack again, getting rid of Dusty Day(Westvaal-BMC).
The order by team captain Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) was then given to the team mates in the chasing bunch to close down the break-away immediately. The time gap at this stage was 2:45 with 23km to go. A tall ask.
MTN WCC then drove the break for a further 5km before resuming attacking. Attack after attack for the 3 different team riders to follow. JC Nel(MTN) managed to break free and open a 25 second gap. Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) counter attacked the MTN WCC riders until it was 4 MTN WCC and himself left with Europcar and ASG chasing. Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) proceeded to pursue JC Nel(MTN) with the 4 MTN WCC sitting on. Rian Gouws(ASG) and the Europcar rider managed to catch up with 5km to go and as soon as they did, Till Drobisch(MTN) attacked and got a gap.
Rian Gouws(ASG) then assisted Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) with the chase realing the MTN WCC duo down to 15 seconds but it wasn’t enough. JC Nel(MTN) took the win with his team mate Till Drobisch taking 2nd. Ryan Gibbons(MTN) won the small group sprint for 3rd, Europcar 4th, Rian Gouws(ASG) 5th, Nic Dougal(MTN) 6th and Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) 7th. The bunch came in about a minute later.
Not a great day in the office for Team Westvaal-BMC. A harsh lesson learned. Onward and upward from here.
Value Logistics: The Fast One
After great results for the team yesterday at the Ottosdal Diamond Challenge, spirits were high and the riders of Team Westvaal-BMC were anxious to do well today at the Value Logistic’s Fast One, the first Big race of the season.
The racing started from the gun at 06:00 from Midvaal raceway where everyone tried and tried again for a break away, but none succeeded. Team Bonitas were the instigators of the attacks. Team Westvaal-BMC was well represented in following the attacks with the likes of Nico Thiart and Simphiwe Mhlakaza.
At around the 35km mark, Team Bonitas put the bunch in the gutter and it exploded leaving only about 30 riders still in the front group. Team Westvaal-BMC did well in staying together and keeping the sprinter Dusty Day out of the wind. The attacks resumed until a break of 3 riders managed to break free consisting of Willie Smit(Bonitas), JC Nel(MTN) and Ian Mcloed. The 3 riders opened up a 30 second gap.
James Fourie(ASG), HB Kruger and Brandon Smith(Panda racing) then managed to get across to the break. Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) and Shaun-Nick bester(Westvaal –BMC) made attempts at riding across to the break to no avail. Christoff van Heerden(Bonitas), David Maree(Tasol-GT) and our man Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC) then made a move and slowly rode across to the 6 man break and the gap opened to 1 minute with all 9 riders contributing to the pace-making.
The team who were unhappy with the combination started pacing on the front of the bunch, them being Team MTN WCC and Team Europcar. The gap slowly came down to the 30 second mark, but the chasing teams started fading with 15km to go. After receiving word that the break-away group had split up and that Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC) had missed the front split, Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal-BMC) and Shaun-Nick Bester(Westvaal-BMC) took over the pacing on the front of the bunch in an attempt to close down the break away.
Unfortunately there wasn’t enough distance left to close down the front 6 riders and the Westvaal-BMC duo only managed to catch the 3 riders who missed the split and finished about 30 seconds behind the winners.
Christoff van Heerden(Bonitas) won the race with Ian Mcloed claiming 2nd and David Maree(Tasol-GT) taking 3rd. Dusty Day(Westvaal-BMC) managed to take 2nd in the bunch sprint, placing him 8th overall.
All in all not such a bad day managing to feature in all the dangerous moves and racing well together as a team.
Ottosdal Diamond Cycle Challenge
So today marks the start of the first official Team Westvaal-BMC race. The Ottosdal Diamond Challenge. A flat, fast, windy race. We had our full team represented on the start line.
The race started at 8:00 at an easy pace for the first 5km until we seized the opportunity for a gutter attempt. It worked and we rode everyone off except for JC Jooste(Demacon) and Egon Cambell(Almec Carpetworx). We drove the pace for a further 5km before settling into an easier Tempo.
We then started attacking in two’s until Dylan Girdlestone and Nico Thiart (both Westvaal-BMC) got away and opened up a 30 second gap. The duo maintained the gap whilst Jooste(Demacon) and Cambell(Almec Carpetworx) chased.
Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC) managed to break free from the chasers and crossed over to the 2 team mates up the road. The Westvaal-BMC trio then worked hard together until the gap was over 2 minutes, taking the first 3 positions on the finish line.
Donovan Lubbe(Westvaal-BMC) 1st, Dylan Girdlestone(Westvaal BMC) 2nd and Nico Thiart(Westvaal-BMC) 3rd. Dusty day(Westvaal-BMC) took 4th place, winning the chasing bunch sprint.
It is always good to start the year off with a positive result as it bring a positive atmosphere to the team, no matter how big or important the race is.