Team RECM cross country ace JAMES REID claimed the 2015 African Continental Championship title in a muddy, seven lap race held in Musanze, Northern Rwanda on Sunday 10 May 2015. The twenty two year old led from start to finish, eventually crossing the line three minutes and fifty seconds ahead of second place Matthys Beukes. Rourke Croeser rounded off the podium in third, just over five minutes behind, making it an all South African podium in the championship race.
“I’m delighted to have won this race – it has been a difficult couple of weeks leading into this event,” smiled Reid. “I’ve come from a lot of podium places in recent weeks but I’ve been lacking that punch needed to win. It’s difficult to taper and be at your best every weekend, so I’m super chuffed that things fell into place and it all came together today.”
It wasn’t exactly perfect conditions as the tropical weather in Musanze contributed to a very slick and muddy affair, exposing a lot of the small rocks and wet roots on the track. Not everything was smooth sailing for the Team RECM rider as a slow front flat led to some split second decision making. He explained, “On the second lap I got away but got my front wheel snagged up in one of the tricky rock gardens. It was leaking slowly, but not fast enough to make a significant difference, so I opted to ride it semi-flat in order to get out of sight, as changing wheels early on would have altered the dynamics of the race significantly. Luckily to held to the finish, but it was only around 12psi at the end!”
It was Reid’s first Elite Men’s Continental Championship win, having captured the tile previously in the U23 men’s category in 2014, in Durbanville, Cape Town. The Elite National Marathon champion rode a decisive, consistent race, maintaining a gap of thirty seconds for the first half of the race, and extended it significantly into the second half of the nearly two-hour long event. Behind Reid, the chasing group changed often, with nearly all of the riders encountering small problems in the difficult conditions. Rourke Croeser, one of the pre-race favourites also from South Africa, was leading with Reid on the second lap before a puncture ended his chances at the title.
“The experience of racing in Rwanda was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The crowds were incredible – in certain sections there were a couple of thousand people going absolutely crazy. I was blown away – it’s incredible what the power of bicycles and the whole African Rising Cycling Centre in Rwanda is doing for the country. Sport really does have the power to unite and heal a nation.”
On Sunday, Reid rode his Specialized Epic World Cup with SRAM XX1 drivetrain (34t) with Fast Track Control 2.0 tyres (front 22psi & rear 24psi). He commented, “The bike was perfect – the Brain suspension is phenomenal in these conditions. I ran the setting at the rear slightly more open for a more efficient ride as the whole track was quite rough.
Leading Results – Elite Men African Continental Championship, Musanze, Rwanda.
1. James Reid / RSA / 1hr54min28s
2. Matthys Beukes / RSA + 3min40
3. Rourke Croeser / RSA + 5min01
4. Brendon Davids / RSA +5min28
5. Phillip Buys / RSA +7min47