A ‘virus’ was the reason why Kevin Evans (MTN-Energade) did not perform as well as he would have liked at the pro-elite race (over 107km) of the UCI Marathon World Championship in St Wendel, Germany.
Evans, who finished 8th overall in last year’s World Championship, was restricted to the 25th position this year.
But he at least has the satisfaction that he was able to play a small part in the victory of his Cape Epic team-mate, Alban Lakata (Austria).
According to Evans Lakata had a really bad start to his race.
“He battled to stay in touch with the slowest of the group of front riders. At times it was so bad that I even had to push him to help him not to lose contact with the front guys. Alban told me that his legs were totally ‘locked’ and that he just did not have any power in them.
“I was thinking: ‘Shame, this poor bloke had such high expectations of winning and it is simply not going to happen this year. He is not going anywhere.’
“But as the race progressed, Alban seemed to get stronger. During the last 40 kilometers Alban was going faster and faster all the time, so much so that I did not have the legs to keep up with him. Even when he dropped me, I still did not believe that he had a chance of winning.
“Needless to say, when I finished it was a huge surprise to learn that Alban had in fact won.”
Evans said his problems began when he represented the South African road team on a tour in Spain.
“I became ill during the tour and, unfortunately for me, I just could not get rid of the virus. In the build-up to the World Championship, I was able to train for three or four days but then I had to take a break to recover again.
“My race did not begin too badly. I managed to stay with the top riders during the first 70km, but then my legs just seemed to die. Towards the end I had nothing left.
“Ironically, my time was a minute closer to that of the winner than it had been last year, but as far as positions are concerned I slipped 17 places.
“The World Championship course was a big surprise for me. It was not technical at all. It definitely suited a cross-country style of riding because of the constant up and down sections.”
Evans said that he is definitely going to reconsider his cycling goals for next year.
“Unfortunately, I allowed myself to become somewhat distracted during the season, trying to excel on too many fronts, and in the process I forgot which goals really mattered.
“I am seriously going to rethink my participation in road races next year. I cannot sacrifice myself again for nothing. Next year I might just focus on winning the Cape Epic and winning a medal at the World Marathon Championship.”
As far as the rest of the year is concerned, there is only one race that Evans really wants to win and that is the MTN Ultra-marathon in Cullinan.
“If I should be able to win this race or have a good placing, it would give me an overall victory in the MTN series and then there would not be any pressure on me for the rest of the season.
“My last race this season will be the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek (18-23 October) which I will ride with Adrian Niyonshuti. He plans to use this tour as his final preparation for the Tour of Rwanda, so I will ride as fast as Adrian is prepared to go.”