Another amazing race by Team NAD. And a great writeup by them as well.
This past weekend, Gawie Combrinck became the first person to claim a hatrick of wins at the Joberg2C MTB stage race as Team NAD Pro MTB raced to victory in Scotburgh on Saturday, beating team Telkom by more than 10 minutes. Joberg2C was one of the bigger goals for the 2016 season and we are proud to have won this prestigious race.
Some of the race highlights:
Day 1 - The 9 day stage race started in Heidelberg, Gauteng and ended the first day in Frankfort, a small town in the Free State. Historically, Day 1 is a neutral stage and everyone finishes the day with the same time. A nice way for riders to connect with the public and other riders.
Day 3 – After a close battle with Team Telkom on day 2, it was day 3 where Gawie and Nico claimed their first stage victory.
After 122km of riding, it came down to a sprint finish in Reitz. Nico lead the bunch over the line and it was Gawie who crossed the line as the 3rd rider that gave Team NAD Pro MTB the victory. A very tight affair at the top of the race with Team Telkom leading by a mere second!
“It was a headwind from the gun and no one was really eager to go hard early on. We did however go a little bit harder through the first single-track to see if we could reduce the size of the bunch slightly. From there, the main contenders rolled together all the way to the third waterpoint.” – Gawie Combrinck
Day 5 – After some technical problems on day 4, Gawie and Nico had to dig deep to make up a 3 minute deficate to a strong Team Telkom.
The duo of Combrinck and Bell worked extremely hard on the 5th day to claim the victory, but was unable to make inrodes into the lead of Rabie and Kruger. Day 5 was one of the harder days of the race with 122km and more than 2000m of ascent.
“Today was actually quite relaxed, nobody really wanted to take the initiative early on with the headwind.
“We attacked at Giant’s Castle leading up to the second waterpoint but couldn’t get rid of the Telkom guys. From there we set the pace for much of the day and in the end it came down to a sprint.
“It was a case of entering the single-track leading into the finish first so that we could at least get a stage win out of the day.” – Gawie Combrinck
“They basically just had to follow our wheels and it came down to who entered the single-track first.” – Nico Bell
Day 6 – With some careful planning and true determination, Gawie and Nico rode a tactical race on day 6 and came away with victory and the overall lead in the 2016 Joberg2C beating Team Telkom by more than 5 minutes.
“It was a really aggressive start this morning, Hanco (Kachelhoffer) and Pieter (Seyffert) put everyone in the gutter on the tar road, which made for a really hard start.
“Then we set a fast tempo up the Gumtree climb and when we saw HB was going off the back we put in an attack. From there it was just flat-out all the way to the finish.”
“We could see them (Telkom) behind us, but we took it quite easy in the technical stuff,” - Gawie Combrinck.
“We race our best when we are going flat-out. When you sit up and try to take it easy is when you make mistakes.
“We’ll possibly go more conservatively about our business, but we’ll be looking for gaps nevertheless. “It was an awesome stage; very fast in the beginning and I loved the new single-track. The cattle tracks were also pretty amazing and we love the long climbs and there were lots of that today.” – Nico Bell
Day 8 – The penultimate stage. The famous Umko drop which every mountain biker dreams of riding at least once in their lifetime is where Nico and Gawie decided to put the hammer down and never look back. The duo claimed the day’s 99km stage by more than 7 minutes, which ensured them a 12 minute overall lead.
“It is always a race to enter the single-track to the Umkomaas descent in front, but we opted to play it safe today, we didn’t want to take too many chances on the downhill and was happy for Telkom to lead the way. When we reached the valley, it was only them and us and they made the pace until the first waterpoint.” – Nico Bell
“After that, on the single-track climb through the Bridges for Africa section, we upped the tempo and got a gap. Then on Push of a Climb we rode tempo to make up some more time – and simply played it safe from there.”
“I think HB, especially, is struggling with his chest. I think we’re now all just nursing ourselves to tomorrow’s finish.” – Gawie Combrinck
Day 9 – Victory. The day would go to Team Telkom as they reached the floating bridge in first place, but Nico and Gawie were happy for them to lead the way to the finishe line.
“They (Telkom) were full gas from the word go, we simply followed them and tried to stay out of trouble”
“They were a bit faster than us in the last single-track. We played it safe over the bridge; it is very slippery in this rain and I almost lost it.”
“Nico and I have raced together a lot and we train together every day and he must be one of the best teammates one can have. It is vital on a stage race as you are only as strong as the weakest rider.
“It is also important to be able to look after your partner when he is going through a rough patch. We race very well together in that sense.” – Gawie Combrinck
Next up for team NAD Pro MTB is the Sani2C race which takes place from the 12th – 14th of May. The race also covers the same last three days as the Joberg2C, which will give Nico and Gawie a great advantage after their win.
Gawie is coached by Hunter Allen of Peaks Coaching Group