Jurgens Uys of Team PSG asked me to race PE<Plett with him and I jumped at the opportunity as it is perfect prep for Pioneer and it's great to race at these new events.
It is a four day stage race from Plett to PE (changes direction every year) dubbed the 'tough one' and the organisers work hard at making the route really tough. This is a unique approach but a great opportunity for riders that are preparing for tough events such as Pioneer or Epic to test their abilities. As a second year event they still have to fine tune a few things but the race certainly has a lot of potential.
Stage one - 126km, 2500m
Stage two - 91km, 1800m
Stage three - 72km, 2000m
Stage four - 72km, 1600m
Total ride time - 15:50 hours
Jurgens was a great partner and we fought as hard as we possibly could for a stage win but the Kargo team of Rourke and Travis gave us limited opportunities to work with. Jurgens is a young rider with a lot of potential but as a full time student it was a tall order to race against two pro riders but I am extremely proud of how deep he dug and how hard he pushed right to the last km of every stage.
We finished 2nd overall and 2nd every day, and on the grueling first stage we were a mere 100 seconds off the two leaders. Perhaps we pushed a bit too hard on day one but it was the only real shot we had as Jurgens can handle the long distances very well. I am really happy with my form and recovery on each stage as I gave my all on the front every day to make sure that I take as much punch as possible to simulate what Pioneer will have in store come October.
I also used the event to test the SWIFT D'Vore Hardtail as a option for Pioneer but I am quite sure that I will go with the brand new SWIFT dual suspension bike (The Evil Twin) rather.
Lourens Luus and I will be going on a Karoo training camp from 27 Sept - 1st Oct to test equipment, train hard and scout the route. After that we will race the Seweweekspoort MTB race in Ladismith before resting up in the final week before Pioneer.
I also want to thank Schalk Louw from PSG for the opportunity and for respecting my sponsors by making custom kit just for the event.