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Tough racing in the Bouckaert-Soenen league

The first league race of 2017, and fourth of the series, took place this past weekend out in Paarl. Hosted by Paarl Rotary, the 124 km Bouckaert-Soenen route is one of the longest on the calendar and promised exciting and tough racing, especially with a bit of a breeze blowing.

Alfa Bodyworks, Mad Macs p/b Hazz, UCT Private Client Holdings, Giant, Aurecon-Demacon and a host of individuals made up the elite field. The bunch started out fairly gently, with a couple of attacks being launched while we made our way towards Wellington, but the real racing only started once we hit the exposed roads heading towards Hermon.

Every team began launching attacks in a bid to force a break-away with a couple gaining traction before being hauled in, with one team or another not happy with the makeup of it. The decisive move finally went at 40 km when Ian Lategan, Shameeg Salie, Mat Merrington, Leonardo van Onselen and Gregg Christy managed to slip away before Brad Gouveris, Jayde Julius, Brandon Christians, Chris Cronje and Alex Parsons bridged across. We held a steady tempo up and over Botmaskloof, knowing that if we pushed hard on the descent and flat roads towards Malmesbury we would open a sizeable gap over the chasing bunch. The league aspect made the break a tactical affair, as Alfa Bodyworks didn’t fully commit for a while as they didn’t have their U23 rider represented. Despite this, they still rolled through with everyone else and the gap grew to well over 4 minutes at the 90 km mark.

At this point Alfa launched a couple of stinging attacks which eventually saw 3 of us distanced, while soon after Jayde and Shameeg gapped the rest of the break and soloed to a 1-2 finish, while Brad and Mat claimed 3rd and 4th respectively. (Shameeg was later DQed for not having signed on). Further back, my 2 struggling breakaway companions and I kept pushing to the finish line, ever hopeful that the effort to make the break would at least still result in a top 10 finish. A reduced bunch was closing in fast and made the final 10 km painful and stressful, but we just about managed to hold them off.

Speaking to my teammates (UCT PCH) afterwards, the chasing bunch was either flat out or sitting up and so a strong chase never got going, while crosswinds in the latter half of the race caused some to be dropped in the late chase which was organised. Now we all rest up ahead of a big weekend of racing, with either SA Champs or 99er on the cards. – Gregg Christy

The Elite league winners

PPA ACADEMY

The PPA Academy is an opportunity for promising young riders to gain international racing experience. Our local PPA 2016-2017 League will serve as the platform for riders to achieve results and become eligible for the PPA Academy. Six young riders will be offered limited financial assistance R25 000 each towards travel and racing expenses for international participation in 2017. The selection of riders will be based on their participation in the 2016-2017 PPA league series and points scored in this league.

After the Bouckaert-Soenen league, the points standings in the PPA Academy are as follows:

 

u/23

POINTS

1

Nicol Carstens

34

2

Max Sullivan

18

3

Alex Parsons

18

4

Josh Francis

17

5

Ben Fish

14

 

 

u/18

POINTS

1

Rocco King

35

2

Muttalib Sauls

30

3

Devin Shortt

29

4

Byron Munton

19

5

Nic James

18

 

 

 

JUNIOR WOMEN

POINTS

1

Alison Morton u/18

10