A group of 10 riders, including Florian Vogel, Pyga-Euro Steel’s Matthys Beukes, Phil Buys as well as Gert Heyns from Team DSV, formed soon after the start and pushed the pace early on. The group felt each other out until Vogel, Van der Poel and 2017 defending champion, Howard Grotts went up the road.
“I was left out of the tussle early on,” Gaze explained. “Howie (Grotts) and Florian Vogel rode away up the course and – with all the training going on for the World Cup – I’m pretty tired, so knew I could only ride one speed all the way to the finish,” he said.
This year’s route had been extended to 60km with an extra five added to the existing skeleton designed by Meurant Botha. While dry and dusty, the trails rode blisteringly fast. Gaze managed to work his way back and a bunch including him, van der Poel and Gert Heyns were together with 20kms to go.
“Once back on, I knew where we had to be strong on the last couple of climbs into the finish,” Gaze said. “The pair broke on a steep climb in Kanonkop and managed to get a solid gap. They stayed together until the finish where Gaze, who is preparing for the UCI World Cup season – which starts in Stellenbosch on Saturday 10 March – managed to squeak ahead to deny his American team mate a repeat victory.
“Howie is going incredibly well at the moment, so I think he and Jaroslav (Kulhavý) are going to be a team to really look out for in the Epic.” Gaze said.
In the women’s race Jennie Stenerhag (CBC/Åbro) absolutely dominated, spending most of the morning riding alone. She lead from start to finish to successfully defend her title to win her third in a row.
“I took two tumbles,” she joked after the finish. “All good though, very happy to take the win. Epic is in two weeks’ time so now is the time that I’m supposed to start feeling good,” she said. “
“The trails rode beautifully,” she said, “I had a lot of fun,” echoing the sentiments no doubt, of the rest of the field across the three distances. The routes – 20km, 40km, 60km – were consolidated into one day this year, all at a new start/finish venue at Uitspan. “The 2018 instalment has been a great success,” commented David Bellairs, Marketing, Sponsorship and Communications Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust. “Despite the very warm weather and the Western Cape being in such a dire drought I think riders have had a fantastic time,” he said.
“With everything in one place and on one day, we really are covering all aspects and ability of riding – the 20km on some jeep track and then the 40km and 60km routes on some of the finest Simonsberg’s most spectacular single-track on farms like Muratie, Kanonkop, Delheim, Uitkyk, it just doesn’t get any better.”
“You now have families being able to participate together – where the hardcore part of the family can be out riding on the mountains with the younger riders or less experienced riding the vineyards.”
The Lifecycle Week continues with the Cape Town Cycle Tour Junior on Sunday 4 March and culminates in the Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday 11 March.
Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge 2018 Top Results:
1. Sam Gaze (NZ) 02:11:50
2. Howard Grotts (USA) 02:11:58
3. Mathieu van der Poel (NL) 02:12:35
1. Jennie Stenerhag (Swe) 02:37:57
2. Katie Lennard 02:44:37
3. Lotte Koopmans 02:50:50
1. Sabrina Enaux 01:55:04
2. Lehane Oosthuizen 01:57:07
3. Julia Marx 02:09:14
1. Ryan Kellerman 01:40:02
2. Johan van Zyl 01:42:19
3. Kevin Long 01:43:07
1. Hendre de Villiers 00:52:20
2. Philip van Schalkwyk 00:55:22
3. Robert Nieuwenhuizen 01:00:29
1. Anna Marx 01:01:02
2. Edna Ytier 01:08:11
3. Tanna Scott 01:12:40