SouthxSoutheast Gravel Race 2019
It was 7am on the banks of the Suikerbosrand River. The temperature was already teetering in the mid-twenties. 70 had entered, but 56 were about to take on the unknown. The inaugural SouthxSoutheast Gravel Race. Amongst the field, Mpho Moloi and Nkosi Mpofu, 2 development riders who had competed in the iconic Tour of Ara, lined up at the start. BikeMarket had been so kind as to provide these riders with gravel bikes for the event. Some big names and strong riders lined up alongside them. Dusty Day, Stuart Fitzpatrick, Craig Uria and Luke John Roberts to name a few.
As the Salmon-Coloured flag dropped. The pace was on. The freshly graded rocky road providing some early casualties with riders unable to pick the correct line amidst the chaos. Tyres slashed and dust filled the hot morning air. A 5 rider breakaway went after just 10km and after the technical sections in the rolling terrain of The Suikerbosrand River Valley a proper gap had been established. The splintered chase groups regathered after about 25kms. This small peloton would work together until the Checkpoint at 67km but couldn’t bring back the break. The group fractured after that because of the heat and the early efforts and it was each man for himself after that.
The Checkpoint proved instrumental. Dusty Day also attacked just after this point and went Solo from just over 40kms out and completed an emphatic victory on the day coming in in just under 3h30. Craig Uria fought hard and crossed the line in second place. Luke John Roberts completed the podium. It was Mpho Moloi himself who attacked the splintered peloton riders at the Checkpoint and with some good legs on the day came in 4th.
The most combative rider went to Pano Ladas, who had been involved as a passenger in a bad car accident at 4am that morning. He and his bike came out relatively unscathed and managed to complete the 110km course in just over 6hrs in absolutely grueling conditions, Chapeau!
It was epic, it was hot, measuring up to 45 degrees at times. It was brutal, but a memorable inaugural SouthxSoutheast was experienced by all.
– By Ross Garrett – Race Director