Nico and Gawie once again proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in cycling, not only on the MTB, but on the road bikes too.
Team NAD rode the Bestmed Jock Tour this past weekend where Nico finished in 2nd place overall.
The 3 day road stage race took place in the Mpumalanga province and around Nelspruit. Our riders know the area well as they train on those roads weekly. This gave Bell and Combrinck the advantage, however being a two man team against some of the best road teams in South Africa was certainly a disadvantage.
The first day kicked off with a 27km individual time trial with 1200m of climbing where Nico managed to finish in second place, a mere 6 seconds behind first place rider JC Nell. Nico rode the Specialized S-Works Shiv TT for the first time in the week leading up to the race and was very pleased with the ride and managed to shave off 3 minutes from his previous effort in 2015.
“The Time Trial was pretty much from Nelspruit to Kaapsehoop. We did an hour warm up the morning of the race. Just an easy ride to get the legs warm and ready for the intense effort. We rode as hard as we can. Last year I did 58 min from the bottom to the top, so I knew that anything better would be a great performance. I managed to do it in 55 minutes and some change which was an amazing feeling. Great to be in second place after the TT” - Nico Bell
“The Jock is a ‘hometown’ race for us and we enjoy giving the roadies a little bit of stick. We did not rest specifically for this race and used it for a solid training effort. Thanks to Bells Cycling and Specialized, we were able to build up 2 x Shiv TT bikes which helped us smash the opening ITT. I did not have the FTP to match Nico and Willie. I went 7 minutes faster than my time from last year, so I was really happy with the ride on the first day” - Gawie Combrinck
Stage two was from Nelspruit to White River via the Kruger Airport and back to Nelspruit. 140km with 2900m of ascent.
A very tough stage in the wind. Gawie made a tactical move to go with the break and Nico sat in the peloton until an opportune time to attack. A well worked stage for the NAD mtb team.
“Day two was a nice big loop. Its a loop that we know well and we have trained before. Spitskop and Longtom being big climbs. Up Spitskop, I went with Willie and we put pressure on JC. We managed to crack him and rode together till the base of Longtom. Willie, myself and Morne rode away from the field and managed to build up a gap. Willie put in a few attacks on the climb to try and get away, but I had good legs and was able to close the gap each time. I had a 5 second buffer on Willie which was not much, but I needed to defend as hard as I could. Willie managed to win the stage in the final meters, but I held onto the gap and secured the Yellow jersey” - Nico Bell
“We did not have a specific plan for stage 2. As we rolled out of the neutral zone, Nico suggested that I go with the break, so when the attacks went, I followed and got away on the first climb with one of the younger guys. Eventually another rider crossed the gap. When we reached Whiteriver, another 2 people joined the break and we worked together well. I knew the peloton would catch us up Longtom. I was trying to conserve a little bit of energy for an opportunity of a stage win. Going up Longtom, Nico, Willie and Morne caught us. I set a hard tempo on the front helping Nico to get out of the wind. Over the top of Longtom, Morne attacked and I could not follow. I sat in the break for the rest of the stage and launched a final attack at the finish to claim 4th place on the stage” - Gawie Combrinck
Stage 3 was an early start. 06.30 am call time for the riders. 138km with 3100m of ascent. Leaving Nelspruit towards Komatipoort and Boulders reserve before heading the Barberton and finally on to Nelspruit. A hilly stage that would take maximum effort from the two man team.
“Stage 3, we went out to defend the Yellow jersey. It was always going to be tough for me and Gawie against the road teams. Barend Burger helped us out on the day and did a great effort alonside Gawie to assist my defense of the Yellow jersey. It is difficult to asses the strengths of the riders until you hit the climbs. A group went away early and from there Gawie went to the front and pretty much paced for 90% of the race. We brought the gap down and pretty much caught the front guys at the bottom of Hilltop, the last climb of the day. Road Cover had 3 guys with them and Clint Hendriks put in a massive pull. Morne took his turn for Willie during the middle section of the climb. I went past them and put in a hard effort, but then Willie attacked. He got a 5-10 second gap on me and I was just not able to close the gap on the downhill. Unfortunately losing the yellow jersey and finishing second on the stage. Gawie had an amazing day and worked really hard for the team” - Nico Bell
The best partner and hardest worker in the field – Gawie Combrinck
“The last stage was quite lekker. The first few km was very fast and flat. We knew we were out numbered so we had to conserve energy as best we could. No one important went in the break and after about 25km, 5 guys got away. The only GC contender was 5 min down so no threat. When we hit Boulders, we went hard to loose a few of the guys who were not working in the group. On the descent we were able to get away from some riders. We kept the pace high on the next section, but everyone came back together. We controlled the breakaway time at around 3 minutes. Barend helped me with some pulling, but I sat on the front of the group for most of the day. We finally caught the break before the last climb. From there Nico was on his own. I ran out of petrol at the end. We had plenty of fun out there and we are very happy with the outcome of the race” - Gawie Combrinck
Nadia Bell did back up for the team on the weekend with the very capable Opel Mokka. We would like to thank her for the time and effort. Thank you to Westvaal for the great vehicle support.
A big thank you to all of our sponsors who make it possible to race all year on the best equipment and unparalleled support. We appreciate it immensely.
Gawie is coached by PCG Coach Hunter Allen
Gawie is coached by PCG Coach Hunter Allen