The quiet South African harbour town of Mossel Bay exploded in a kaleidoscope of colour and frenetic energy as tight racing action got the prologue stage of the 2015 Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race underway on Sunday.
Riders from 15 nations tackled the opening 13km leg, labeled the #PointPursuit, which incorporated a scenic section of coastal singletrack and many of the town’s most prominent features. The urban assault-style stage also combined a range of surfaces including tar, concrete, grass, brick paving, wooden walkways and gravel to give the competitors a brief-yet-barbed leg-and-lung-loosener ahead of the coming week’s racing.
Philip Buys and Arno du Toit of SCOTT Factory Racing LCB snatched the stage win in the men’s category by just two seconds from stablemates, Gert Heyns and Matthys Beukes. Third place went to Italian brothers, Roberto and Emanuele Crisi of the Celeste Kento Avvenia team.
In the women’s division, South African champion, Robyn de Groot and Swedish champion, Jennie Stenerhag (Ascendis Health) charged to victory, posting a fairly comfortable winning margin of just more than a minute over Britain’s Catherine Williamson and Switzerland’s former World Champion, Esther Suss (Sasol Racing). South Africans Marlene Louwrens and Desiree Loubser (Fair Cape) finished a distant third.
In the other categories South Africans Rob Sim and Doug Brown (Trek Robert Daniel) secured the early Veteran men’s lead, ToMotion Racing’s Max Friedrich (GER) and Daniele Troesch (FRA) claimed the stage win in the Mixed category and South Africans Lieb Loots and Izak Visagie were the fastest Masters.
In the Solo sections, Richard Damant claimed the men’s stage win and Katja Steenkamp the early lead in the women’s division.
“I thought Gert and Matthys would be a bit quicker than Arno and I on the prologue, but it turns out we’re pretty closely matched,” said stage winner Philip Buys.
“Everything went really smoothly for Arno and I. We decided to take the first climb a little easier so that we could have good composure for the rough downhill that followed. We’re not too worried if we lose the lead tomorrow because the second half of this event is where you need to still be strong and we’ll conserve a bit for that,” added Buys.
“We set out to be safe and not lose any time in the prologue and it turned out to be a good enough ride for the stage win. We’re not going to take anything for granted and will take each day as it comes. Last year we had such bad luck after a dream first half. We’re hoping to settle that score with this route this year. I’m hoping to find my sense of humour in the Kammanasie!” grinned De Groot.
Monday’s Stage 1, dubbed the #DiazDash, is a tough 106km haul from Mossel Bay to George. The elevation gain is 2300 metres and the route take riders along the beach, through lush indigenous forest over the Outeniqua Mountains and into George via forest plantations.
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
Prologue time trial, 13km
1 Philip Buys (RSA) / Arno du Toit (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 27min 54sec
2 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 27:56
3 Robert Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 29:31
4 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 29:36
5 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Jeep 29:45
1 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 34:20
2 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 35:37
3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 43:37
1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 31:47
2 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) – Bus Boys 34:19
3 Lionel Murray (RSA) / Jan Hanekom (RSA) – Chip and Charge 34:26
1 Izak Visagie (RSA) / Lieb Loots (RSA) – Wilde Masters 35:38
2 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – Pitstop 24hrs 36:08
3 Jozef de Meyer (BEL) / Renaat Verbeke (Bel) – L4 L5 38:05
1 Daniele Troesch (FRA) / Max Friedrich (GER) – ToMotion Racing Black Tusk 34:29
2 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 35:27
3 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 37:09
1 Richard Damant (RSA) 31:37
2 Patrick Jansen (NED) 31:43
3 Craig Uria (RSA) 32:27
1 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 40:31
2 Karin van der Walt (RSA) 43:04
3 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 44:27