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The elite men lined up at the start of the Nissan TrailSeeker Western Cape Series in Tulbugh on the Saronsberg Wine Estate. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

Almost 700 riders participated in the event, which offered four distances and which took place in hot, breezy conditions. The prestigious series attracted most of the Western Cape’s top racers in the marathon event, with a strong Youth and Junior category showing in the half-marathon.

In the men’s marathon, a lead group of six formed early on comprising Alan Hatherly (Team Spur), Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health), Woolcock (Team BCX), Matt Beers (Red-E Cannondale), HB Kruger (Team BCX) and Marco Joubert (Momsen Bikes). Hatherly, Beers and Heyns were the aggressors and the pace they set soon saw their rivals drop off as they charged clear on the 68km route.

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Early formation of the elite men comprising of Alan Hatherly (Team Spur), Gert Heyns (Ascendis Health), Woolcock (Team BCX), Matt Beers (Red-E Cannondale), HB Kruger (Team BCX) and Marco Joubert (Momsen Bikes). Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

But the unexpectedly hot conditions began to take their toll and with 20km remaining, the experienced Woolcock reeled the leaders in and focussed his efforts on maintaining his lead until the finish, even opting to skip a stop at a water point, despite having no water.

He survived the conditions better than his rivals and rolled across the finish line first in a time of 02 hours 56 minutes 02 seconds. Joubert managed the conditions well too and claimed the runner-up spot a minute and a half later, with Heyns rounding out the podium places in 2:59:10.

“Tulbagh never disappoints when it comes to a hard route. I also made the race bit harder for myself when I clipped a rock and damaged a pedal. That saw me struggle on the singletrack. Luckily the last half of the race had less singletrack so I was able to keep a good rhythm,” said Woolcock

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Waylon Woolcock (Team BCX) arms raised in victory as he crosses the finish line in first place at the Nissan TrailSeeker Western Cape Series in Tulbagh. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

“I had no water at all with 20km to go. I was too afraid to stop at a water point because when you’re leading you never know what the gaps are like behind you. I’m really happy to take the win against quite a classy field,” added Woolcock.

“It was quite brutal. Alan, Matt and Gert set a hard pace from the start. The last 20 kays the heat started to affect all of us. Then it was a battle for survival and to see who could last. Luckily I managed to hold off Gert and Alan and get second place, but Waylon was just too strong and deserved the win,” said Joubert.

“It was quite hard from the start. I got away with Alan and Matt. It was a game of cat and mouse the whole race. With 20 kays to go, Waylon came from behind. We were all a bit tired and running a bit low on water. In the circumstances, I’m happy with third,” said Heyns.

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Jennie Stenerhag (CBC/Abro) raises an arm as she claims the women’s marathon victory at the Nissan TrailSeeker Western Cape Series in Tulbagh. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

In the women’s race, Stenerhag (CBC/Abro) and Vera Adrian (Team dormakaba), set the pace from the outset. They were locked together for more than half of the race with Stenerhag doing most of the pace-setting. But at 40km Adrian stopped to fill a bottle and Stenerhag pushed on, creating the race-deciding split.

Stenerhag rode on alone out front in the hot, windy conditions to finish first in a time of 3:24:46. Adrian secured second place in 3:28:15 with Carmen Buchacher (Velocity Sports Lab) third in 3:37:26.

“It was quite a hard race and the heat made it even harder. The route was quite hilly and there was wind, so the conditions were tough. Vera stopped at a water point and I just went through. Then I never saw here again for the rest of the race. I’m very happy with the win,” said Stenerhag.

“Tulbagh is fantastic for mountain biking. I’ve been here quite a few times for weekends away, training camps and many races, so I know the trails very well. It’s a hidden gem. More people should come and ride here,” added Stenerhag.

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Vera Adrian (Team dormakaba) works her way past the men on a farm road in Tulbagh at the Nissan TrailSeeker Western Cape Series. Photo Credit: www.zcmc.co.za

“The first hour was lovely. We were in the shade of the mountains where most of the climbing was. Lots of lovely singletrack! It got really hot later though. At 40km I had to stop for water. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the finish on what I had left. That’s where Jennie opened the gap and I just couldn’t close it,” explained Adrian.

In the Half-marathon over 40km, Junior Rossouw Bekker, was the first male home in 1:48:45, while Junior Mia de Villiers was the first female to finish in 2:18:23.

For full results visit www.saseeding.co.za

Round 2 of the 2017 Nissan TrailSeeker Series takes place at Grabouw on 24 June. Information and online entries at www.trailseekerseries.co.za