It took a while, but at long last Ryan Ellis achieved that one big victory that he was striving for when he won the MiWay Half marathon race over 40km on Saturday (28 August).
The Zambian-born rider who attends school in Pietermaritzburg, impressed with the way in which he attacked on the rocky climb about eight kilometers into the race and then time trialed to the finish.
Allan Britnell and Raymond Oosterlaak were involved in their own battle for the second position. It was Britnell who, when it really mattered, was able to find that extra bit of energy to outsprint Oosterlaak over the last few hundred meters.
Ellis’s winning time was 1 hour 39 minutes and 27 seconds. Britnell’s time was 1:41.14, with Oosterlaak a mere five seconds slower.
According to Ellis he owed it to himself to achieve a good result.
“Until now things have not really gone my way as far as mountain biking is concerned. At the beginning of the year I was battling with a virus. Then, during the MiWay Cross-country race in George, just when I thought that my luck had changed for the better, my mountain bike’s chain snapped while I was in the lead. You can say that I was robbed of victory by a mechanical failure.”
When Ellis talks about Saturday’s race, it seems as if he experienced one of those days when nothing could go wrong.
Britnell, Oosterlaak and Ellis wasted no time before they started to attack. This meant that they got away in a break quite early during the race.
“I decided to try my luck again when we came to a rocky climb, so I attacked again. To my surprise I managed to drop Allan and Raymond. From then on I simply kept going.
“At one stage during the race I wondered whether I was doing the right thing, by racing in front on my own. For a moment I considered to sit up and allow the rest of the riders to catch up with me and see how the race plays out. But then I realized that, in spite of being on my own, the time gap between them and myself was gradually increasing.
“So I gambled on staying in front and make the racing as hard as I could whenever there was an opportunity. It paid off because I managed to disappear out of sight from the other riders.”
Ellis said afterwards that he thoroughly enjoyed the course. “I found it easy to get into a pleasant riding tempo without ever slowing down.”