It wasn’t only a change of scenery, but also a change of overall lead in most of the categories when the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race left the beaches of Mossel Bay and headed through the lower slopes of the Outeniqua Mountains into George on Monday.
The 110km stage included 2300 metres of vertical ascent, much of that coming in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains. But it was the final 15km loop around the town, which included some demanding sections that made for some unexpectedly big time gaps for the race’s first full stage.
Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns of SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 won the stage overall and took the men’s race lead from stablemates Philip Buys and Arno du Toit, who started out strong, but faded in the final 30km and finished sixth.
Beukes and Heyns clocked a time of 04 hours 22 minutes 02 seconds, just under a minute quicker than the Italian siblings, Roberto and Emanuele Crisi (Celeste Kento Avvenia) with Team Jeep’s South African pairing of Dylan Rebello and Thinus Redlinghuys rounding out the podium a further 2:40 back. And that is now also the top three – in sequence – on the General Classification.
“It’s good to get the stage win and the lead, but that stage was harder than we expected,” said a weary Beukes, who lives in the region and had the benefit of local knowledge. “We had been out front for ages pushing the pace but we found that last 15km really hard.”
The two SCOTT Factory Racing LCB teams set a fast early pace and managed to get a gap on their rivals. But when the race reached open roads, the pursuing group caught them.
“When we hit the first of the big climbs, Gert and I put in a big effort and got a gap on the rest. That was about 80km from the finish. We then decided to go hard for the stage win and made the pace difficult for the others. They surprised us though. They brought the gap back down to about 20 seconds at one point.
“We considered sitting up and letting them catch us but then decided to keep going hard and opened up the gap a bit again near the end. We made it hard for ourselves, but we have the lead now and will do our best to hold onto that,” added Beukes.
In the women’s race, former Marathon World Champion and Swiss ace, Esther Suss and her British teammate, Catherine Williamson (Sasol Racing), enjoyed a strong ride to claim the stage win and secure the overall lead. They clocked a time of 5:23:51, which was over eight minutes quicker than runners-up Jennie Stenerhag and Robyn de Groot of Team Ascendis. Marleen Lourens and Desiree Loubser were well back in third.
“We had a really good ride today. There was a lot of climbing and that suits me. Catherine is strong on the flats so we compliment each other well. We have quite a good lead, but anything can happen in mountain bike racing and it is still early in the race. We will do our best to defend this lead now,” said Suss.
Marius Nel and Craig Gerber (Cape Brewing Company) won the stage in the Veteran’s category, but runners-up Rob Sim and Doug Brown (Trek Robert Daniel) retained their overall lead.
The Master’s division saw Waleed Baker and Joao Mendes (PitStopSport24hrs) claim a dominant stage win and with it took the category leaders’ jerseys off the shoulders of second-place finishers, Izak Visagie and Lieb Loots (Wilde Masters).
And in the Mixed division, Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo Mixed) claimed the stage victory and took the lead from Prologue winners, Daniele Troesch and Max Friedrich (ToMotion Black Tusk).
The very competitive Solo men’s category saw South African Sven Klein securing the stage win ahead of Patrick Jansen (NED) and Richard Damant (RSA). Jansen now leads going into Day 3. South African Lara-Ann Everts-Van De Venter won the stage in the Solo women’s race and claimed the lead.
Tuesday’s Stage 2, dubbed #MontaguMettle, will be over 86km from George to Oudtshoorn, including the scenic climb of the Montagu Pass. The stage has a total of 1550m of ascent and while it may seem less formidable than the stages that flank it, could well yield some more category position changes.
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 1, 110km from Mossel Bay to George
1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 04hrs22min02sec
2 Robert Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 4:22:55
3 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Jeep 4:24:42
4 Alan Gordon (RSA) / Ben-Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – Navworld-Squirtlube 4:29:22
5 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 4:29:39
1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 4:48:13
2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 4:56:23
3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 6:09:05
1 Marius Nel (RSA) / Craig Gerber (RSA) – Cape Brewing Company 4:45:20
2 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 4:45:55
3 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) – Bus Boys 4:58:38
1 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 5:06:16
2 Izak Visagie (RSA) / Lieb Loots (RSA) – Wilde Masters 5:20:03
3 Jozef de Meyer (BEL) / Renaat Verbeke (BEL) – L4 L5 5:37:40
1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 5:05:07
2 Daniele Troesch (FRA) / Max Friedrich (GER) – ToMotion Racing Black Tusk 5:06:19
3 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 5:25:12
1 Sven Kleine (RSA) 4:40:41
2 Patrick Jansen (NED) 4:41:08
3 Richard Damant (RSA) 4:44:35
1 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 5:49:52
2 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 6:09:28
3 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 6:24:24
General Classification after Stage 1
1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 4:49:58
2 Robert Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 4:52:27
3 5 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Jeep 4:54:27
4 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 4:59:16
5 Alan Gordon (RSA) / Ben-Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – Navworld-Squirtlube 4:59:27
1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 5:23:51
2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 5:30:43
3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 6:52:43
1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 5:17:43
2 Marius Nel (RSA) / Craig Gerber (RSA) – Cape Brewing Company 5:18:48
3 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) – Bus Boys 5:32:57
1 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 5:42:25
2 Izak Visagie (RSA) / Lieb Loots (RSA) – Wilde Masters 5:55:42
3 Jozef de Meyer (BEL) / Renaat Verbeke (BEL) – L4 L5 6:15:46
1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 5:40:35
2 Daniele Troesch (FRA) / Max Friedrich (GER) – ToMotion Racing Black Tusk 5:40:49
3 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 6:02:22
1 Patrick Jansen (NED) 5:12:52
2 Sven Kleine (RSA) 5:15:18
3 Richard Damant (RSA) 5:16:13
1 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 6:35:11
2 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 6:49:59
3 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 7:08:51
Switzerland’s Esther Suss (left) and Britain’s Catherine Williamson of Sasol Racing celebrate winning Stage 1 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from Mossel Bay to George, South Africa on Monday.
Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon