Philip Buys and Arno du Toit (SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1) bounced back from a Blue Monday to claim their second stage win of the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in Oudtshoorn, South Africa on Tuesday.
The winners of Sunday’s opening prologue stage struggled through the final 30km of Monday’s stage, losing their overall lead in the process. But on Tuesday the South Africans were back in the podium hunt, breaking clear of their rivals in the final 10km to clock a time of 03 hours 18 minutes 22 seconds for the haul from George to Oudtshoorn
Overnight leaders and Stage 1 winners, Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns (SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2) finished fourth on the stage but held onto their overall lead, while in the women’s division, Sasol Racing’s Esther Suss (SWI) and Catherine Williamson (GBR) won the stage and extended their overall lead.
At 86km, the stage was relatively low on distance, but high on drama. The early climb up the Montagu Pass saw leaders Beukes and Heyns crush any ambitions of an early assault on their lead when they set a blistering pace to the summit of the scenic, twisty 7.5km ascent. The lead pack splintered behind them and on the following descent, just five teams remained at the head of the race.
After 20km covered, just before the first Tech Zone, Erik Kleinhans, winner of the Cape Pioneer Trek in 2013, and teammate Chris Wolhuter, racing as Asrin Cycling, put in an attack that saw them move clear of their rivals, eventually building a lead of more than two minutes on the chase group. They’d been dropped on the Montagu Pass, but had chased back to the leaders successfully and virtually went straight onto the offensive.
This group comprised the two SCOTT Factory Racing LCB teams, the Italian brothers Roberto and Emanuele Crisi (Celeste Kento Avvenir), the Dutch pairing of Bram Rood and Mos Gerben (KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen) and the Jeep team of Dylan Rebello (RSA) and Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA).
With strength in numbers, the pursuing pack started to cut down their lead, but then with 25km remaining, Wolhuter sustained a rear-wheel puncture, which saw them lose their lead and heaps of time.
With a stage win beckoning, the SCOTT Factory Racing LCB teams pushed he pace through the rough terrain in the Chandelier Game Reserve and as they exited, with 15km left, Buys and Du Toit launched an attack that turned out to be the stage-winning move. The relatively flat finale saw them gain just less than a minute on their rivals with Rood and Gerben taking second place ahead of the Crisi brothers.
“With the gap coming down, we were confident of catching Erik (Kleinhans) and Chris (Wolhuter), but it’s really bad luck that they had to lose their lead with a mechanical,” said stage winner Arno du Toit.
“Going through the technical sections of Chandelier, we could see the Italian and Dutch guys were struggling a bit as they’re on hardtail frames. We decided not to let them recover and as we came out onto the smoother roads we attacked. Phil was strong and did most of the pacing. After losing time yesterday, it was good to pull some back today. We will keep trying to pull back more, but our priority is to help Matthys and Gert keep the leader jerseys,” added Du Toit.
In the women’s race, leaders Suss and Williamson once again looked composed as they conquered the stage in a time of 3:41:26, putting them 17th overall across the line. Prologue winners, Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) finished less than three minutes later to retain their second place, but lost more time in the process. Marlene Lourens (RSA) and Desiree Loubser (RSA) of Fair Cape were third on the stage and hold third overall.
In the Veteran’s race, overnight leaders Rob Sim and Doug Brown (Trek Robert Daniel) raced to a dominant victory, taking more than an eight-minute cushion into Stage 3 over Craig Gerber and Marius Nel (Cape Brewing Company), who were second on the stage.
The battle for the Masters’ title intensified when Lieb Loots and Izak Visagie (Wilde Masters) secured a dominant win over their main rivals, Waleed Baker and Joao Mendes (PitstopSport24hrs). This saw them virtually half the latter’s lead to less than seven minutes going into Day 4.
In the Mixed team race, Prologue winners and early leaders Daniele Troesch (FRA) and Max Friedrich (GER) of the ToMotion Racing Black Tusk team saw their hopes of a final podium finish fade when Friedrich was forced to run the final 30km due to a broken frame.
Category leaders Fienie and Kobus Barnard (Klein Karoo Mixed) grabbed a second successive stage win and increased their overall lead to 30 minutes over stage-runners up Danny Fowler and Monica Glover (The Bicycle Service Company).
The hotly contested Solo men’s category saw a third different stage winner in three days when Craig Uria crossed the finish marginally ahead of fellow South African Richard Damant, who now holds the overall lead. Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter won her second consecutive stage to extend her lead in the Solo women’s race.
Wednesday’s 94km Stage 3, dubbed #KammanassieKanon, from Oudtshoorn to De Rust climbs a total of 1950m, but it’s the mercilessly rugged terrain through the Kammanassie Reserve section that’s likely to disrupt any rhythm the riders have begun to find. It favours the more skilled riders and will certainly be best tackled on a full-suspension bike.
For more information on the Cape Pioneer Trek, visit www.capepioneer.co.za. For race updates, follow @CapePioneerTrek on twitter and for photo galleries, like Cape Pioneer Trek on Facebook.
Cape Pioneer Trek 2015
Stage 2, 86km from George to Oudtshoorn
1 Philip Buys (RSA) / Arno du Toit (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 03hrs18min22sec
2 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 3:19:13
3 Robert Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 3:19:15
4 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 3:19:16
5 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Jeep 3:23:57
1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 3:41:26
2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 3:46:03
3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 4:28:14
1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 3:29:54
2 Marius Nel (RSA) / Craig Gerber (RSA) – Cape Brewing Company 3:37:11
3 Lionel Murray (RSA) / Jan Hanekom (RSA) – ChipandCharge 3:37:32
1 Izak Visagie (RSA) / Lieb Loots (RSA) – Wilde Masters 3:49:14
2 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 3:55:47
3 Anton Terblanche (RSA) / Hein Giliomee (RSA) – Seattle 4:26:31
1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 3:44:07
2 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 3:53:01
3 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) / Igna de Villiers (RSA) – Sasol Mixed 3:55:40
1 Craig Uria (RSA) 3:25:33
2 Richard Damant (RSA) 3:25:33
3 Sven Kleine (RSA) 3:29:53
1 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 4:21:06
2 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 4:28:17
3 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 4:33:56
General Classification after Stage 2
1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 8:09:15
2 Robert Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 8:11:42
3 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Jeep 8:18:25
4 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 8:19:29
5 Philip Buys (RSA) / Arno du Toit (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 8:19:26
1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 9:05:17
2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 9:16:46
3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 11:20:58
1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 8:47:37
2 Marius Nel (RSA) / Craig Gerber (RSA) – Cape Brewing Company 8:56:00
3 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) – Bus Boys 9:18:40
1 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 9:38:13
2 Izak Visagie (RSA) / Lieb Loots (RSA) – Wilde Masters 9:44:56
3 Jozef de Meyer (BEL) / Renaat Verbeke (BEL) – L4 L5 10:42:58
1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 9:24:42
2 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 9:55:23
3 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) / Igna de Villiers (RSA) – Sasol Mixed 10:05:14
1 Richard Damant (RSA) 8:41:47
2 Craig Uria (RSA) 8:43:44
3 Sven Kleine (RSA) 8:45:12
1 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 10:56:18
2 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 11:23:56
3 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 11:37:08
Riders climb the Montagu Pass during Stage 2 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from George to Oudtshoorn, South Africa, on Tuesday. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon.