It is finished!  Following the eight days of highly contested racing, improvisation to over come problems, and continuous stress, the eight days are over.  The team, made up of Austrian Marathon Champion Alban Lakata, and German Thomas Nicke have been through a lot together.  The friendship was already there before the start of the event, but eight days of racing, in these conditions is something else.  The final result – the pair achieved their aim of a top ten finish, rolling in on Saturday in tenth place.


At the beginning of the week, it was the shear effort involved that was a worry, particularly for Nicke, who was riding his first competitive race of the season.  It is worth noting at this point that he works full time and the altitude was not helping!  So Lakata could have pulled away, but he slowed up for Nicke.  This was a huge advantage, allowing him to save energy.  On the last stage they used this to pull out all the stops.

The last stage was 60km long with a huge 1760m of climbing.  It took them from Oak Valley to Lourensford.  The only thing really of note on this course was the 20minutes of hike-a-bike as in the nature reserve you aren’t allowed to ride.  This also saw the race naturalised with no overtaking.  As a huge contrast the finish line came after 2:52:18.  Hundreds of spectators came to cheer them on, and the circus of the pro race circuit also provided a spectacle.


The top ten finish was only achievable though because of the team work.  That doesn’t just mean the two riders – there were also three behind the scenes team members who are happy that it is all over.  “The equipment showed little sign of weakness” the team mechanic Lars Hartwich said.  “There were one or two punctures I could have lived without though!  The conditions here were not easy… everyday saw us having to improvise and go with the flow.  That said, it is the result that counts, and we are all very happy”

With a total of 1800km to travel to their next race – Pietermarizburg, Germany for the World Cup debut this season, Team Topeak Ergon is looking forward to , Wolfram Kurschat and Robert Mennen starting their engines!


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