The 94.7 may not be an international race. It may not have UCI points. It may be less than 100km long. But, man, when it comes to this race there is no holding back.
We set off from the the heart of Johannesburg, winding through the downtown streets. In the bunch you could feel the anticipation for the first climb of the day where, no doubt, there would be decisive attacks. As we approached the climb, I was ready for action. I followed a few wheels before the climb and ensured I was in the mix, ready to jump. I saw the winning break forming and as I shifted gears to go with them I took a deep breathe of….nothing. At around 2000m, Johannesburg is not a easy competition destination when you live and train at sea level.
After the early selection I found myself solidly in the 2nd bunch and sat on as Bonitas chased in vain after a group that was rapidly disappearing. Still hoping that it would come together, I made sure to save as much as possible. Lady luck, however, was in the breakaway. Not only did the break stay away but, as we turned onto the highway for the stretch back into the city, I clipped a cat-eye and felt my tire deflate along with my race hopes. Arm in the air to signal for a flat, I free-wheeled helplessly to a halt.
With no back-up vehicle I stood stranded on the side of the empty highway, waiting for a sympathetic manager in another follow car to lend me a wheel. I watched the tatters of the main field come and go and it was only after the 4th bunch cruised past that I luckily flagged someone down, got a wheel and set about the frustrating grind back to the finish line, disappointed.