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  1. With a large lead going into the final day, the racing was a formality for Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Topeak Ergon/RED-E). They simply had to get from start to finish without any hiccups - perhaps easier said than done consider the number of issues they pair had in the first two days of racing. In the end, they were able to ride comfortably and hassle-free through the short 50km day, taking second place on the day and claiming the overall win at their first attempt. Erik Kleinhans follows his teammate Matt Beers through a wine cellar on the day three of the 2017 Gravel & Grape Extreme MTB event. With a large lead going into the final day, the racing was a formality for Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Topeak Ergon/RED-E). They simply had to get from start to finish without any hiccups, which they duly achieved to claim overall honours at the event. Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock. First over the line on stage 3 was Jurgens Uys and Nicols Carstens (02:01:13), but as they had withdrawn on stage 2, they were out of contending in the racing. The stage winners for the day were Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse & Robert Hobson (BREEDENET) in a time of 02:03:54, with Kleinhans and Beers home in second (02:03:58). Third on the stage went to Alexander Rohrer & Martin Freyer (Alex & Martin). “Overall, this was an excellent even with a great route,” said Erik Kleinhans. “There was a little bit of sand at the start in the finish on some days, but that is a minor point. It was all about the single track at Gravel & Grape, and it was fantastic.” Kleinhans and Beers kept it mellow on the final day. “Today we rode with Charl-Pierre (Esterhuyse) and Robert (Hobson); it was bit of an easier day for us and we had no mechanical issues, crashes or punctures today for the first time in the race,” said Kleinhans. “We had no need to ride hard today because of our comfortable lead, so we just rode with Charl-Pierre and Robert for the whole day, and let them take the stage win at the end. Our aim was simply to have a good time and get to the finish without any hassles. Matt and I both had a lot of fun.” Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock. In the Gravel & Grape Adventure, the two-day event that covers approximately half the distance of the Extreme’s final two days on the same route and terrain, Heine Kriegler Beukes and De Wet Steyn (Mohein) walked away as stage 1 and stage 2 winners, claiming the overall title comfortably ahead of second-placed Daniel Jacobus Van Tonder and Pieter Zirki du Toit (Rough and Ready). Third on the stage and overall were Francois de Wet and Andre Venter (Team Kallahariferarrie). “This was just a very enjoyable two days of racing,” said Beukes. “Even in the Adventure the route was quite challenging - with some decent climbs to keep the ego in check. For us, it was an amazing race. Today we attacked on the first climb and rode away from the field there - I dropped my bottle but luckily De Wet saw it; that was our only major issue! We will definitely be back to ride in this area again. It was a brilliant route.” The winners of the women’s category were Nicky Giliomee and British rider Catherine Williamson (Junto Ladies). Giliomee soldiered through the race with a broken foot, while Williamson was using the Gravel & Grape as a short farewell tour of South Africa. After arriving in the country for the Cape Epic, Williamson is heading home for the British summer. Nicky Giliomee and British rider Catherine Williamson (Junto Ladies) race to victory on the final stage of the 2017 Gravel & Grape Extreme, which took place in the stunning Breedekloof Wine Valley. Giliomee soldiered through the race with a broken foot, while Williamson was using the Gravel & Grape as a short farewell tour of South Africa. After arriving in the country for the Cape Epic, Williamson is heading home for the British summer. Photo credit: Chris Hitchcock. “This was quite a special three days of riding,” said Williamson. “I am heading back to England now, and this was a fantastic way to end my stay in South Africa. Today was a good day of riding, nice and short but with some great trails; just a fun day on the bike in a beautiful setting.” To further highlight the unique nature of the Gravel & Grape, the last team to cross the line on the Adventure was the Oddwheelers pair of Donna Kisogloo & Piotr Wolski. They did the two-day ride on unicycles. “I’ve been riding a unicycle for 10 years,” said Kisogloo. “They are not many stage races that we can enter, so it was cool to ride at the Gravel & Grape. We did come in last; so clearly it’s quite tough on a unicycle! But we came here to enjoy the trails and scenery, and that’s exactly what we did.” ResultsGravel & Grape Extreme stage 3 1 Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse & Robert Hobson (BREEDENET) 02:03:54 2 Erik Kleinhans & Matt Beers (Topeak Ergon/RED-E) 02:03:58 3 Alexander Rohrer & Martin Freyer (Alex & Martin) 02:08:01 Gravel & Grape Extreme final GC 1 Erik Kleinhans & Matt Beers (Topeak Ergon/RED-E) 07:59:31 2 Charl-Pierre Esterhuyse & Robert Hobson (BREEDENET) 08:08:39 3 Alexander Rohrer & Martin Freyer (Alex & Martin) 08:22:23 Gravel & Grape Adventure stage 2 1 Heine Kriegler Beukes & De Wet Steyn (Mohein) 01:19:56 2 Daniel Jacobus Van Tonder & Pieter Zirki du Toit (Rough and Ready) 01:23:12 3 Francois de Wet & Andre Venter (Team Kallahariferarrie) 01:30:00 Gravel & Grape Adventure final GC 1 Heine Kriegler Beukes & De Wet Steyn (Mohein) 02:59:37 2 Daniel Jacobus Van Tonder & Pieter Zirki du Toit (Rough and Ready) 03:04:04 3 Francois de Wet & Andre Venter (Team Kallahariferarrie) 03:19:28
  2. Leading South African professional Erik Kleinhans has reunited with Matt Beers (Red E-Topeak Ergon) in a combination that will probably start as favourites when the gun goes off for Stage 1 on May 5. They will, however, have a fight on their hands from the established pairing of Chris Wolhuter and Dylan Rebello (Imbuko Wines), who won the race last year and are highly motivated to defend their title. Dylan Rabello and Chris Wolhuter (Imbuko Wines) on their way to victory at the 2016 Gravel & Grape MTB stage; they'll be back in 2017 and highly motivated to defend their title at this year’s event. Photographer credit: Chris Hitchcock. “Matt and Erik will for sure most likely be our main rivals. They are both strong riders who we race against frequently,” says Wolhuter. “That being said, Jurgens (Uys) and Nicol (Carstens in Team Versus Socks) cannot be underestimated. Jurgens is coming back from an injury lay off and looks very motivated to get back to a high level.” Wolhuter says he and Rebello had a “good Cape Epic” last month but were hampered by some mechanical troubles: “So we are looking to make amends for that and will be going for the title again this year.” Beers, asked if he and Kleinhans would be going for the win, says: “Yeah for sure! But we always want to keep it fun and light-hearted after the race and talk nonsense with friends … I think it really helps mentally.” “We ride extremely well together and complement each other’s riding styles really well: our strengths are almost exactly the same. We are both powerful riders on the flats and can smash the descents too,” Beers adds. Riding together Beers and Kleinhans won the Berg&Bush stage race last year and four stages of the Cape Pioneer Trek. This is the third staging of the Gravel & Grape, which Wolhuter describes as “a great event”. “There are some great trails in the area. I know they have also done a lot of work in the Slanghoek region and the riding there last year was already fantastic,” he says. “The route profiles sometimes suggest an easier stage, but the region has some tough rocky sections which make it tougher than what it looks like on paper.” “Then there is a relaxed vibe in the evenings, which creates a great environment to interact with the other riders and enjoy a glass of wine.” Beers is also a fan of mountain biking in the area: “I have raced this event before back in 2015 in the mixed category with Nicola Giliomee. Apparently, they have done a lot of work so I am looking forward to riding some new trails and seeing different scenery.” The Gravel & Grape is taking place from 5 to 7 May. The event features two rides, the Gravel & Grape Extreme and the Gravel & Grape Adventure. In the women’s race the standout pairing is likely to be British pro Catherine Williamson and up-and-coming Knysna youngster Nicky Giliomee. “We'll be hoping to race as best as we can. I know Nicky is a strong rider and have raced against her at a few races last year and I know we'll have fun whatever happens,” says Williamson, a former winner of the women’s category at the Cape Epic. “I've never ridden Gravel & Grape before. I know the terrain can be very difficult, dry and rocky. But I always love racing in the Cape and as it’s getting towards winter I'm sure it'll be a bit cooler than the last time I was that way,” adds the Briton. The Extreme is the same three day race that hardcore mountain bikers have come to know and love over two years, while the Adventure is a two day challenge that covers 65km of cycling over the course of its stages. The Adventure is a solo or team event. Entries are for teams of two in two different categories: junior and open. The junior category is for both team members between the ages of 16 and 18 years, while the open category can be a son/daughter, husband/wife, daughter/father team or any two adults who would like to experience their first stage race. Both events feature expertly hand-cut singletrack. The Gravel & Grape is an event that sets out to take mountain biking back to its roots, focussing on fun but challenging riding with trails that reward the effort put in. “The Gravel & Grape delivers raw, rough mountain biking,” says Wolhuter. “A highlight was riding through some parts of the valley that were completely isolated. It was very beautiful, very serene.” “We want people to experience the valley and region as it is for us; beautiful, challenging, unique and exciting,” says one of the race organisers and Slanghoek Cellar’s Pieter Carstens. By involving a number of wine farms in the race, each day offers something different, from the highest peaks to the lowest valley floors.“Make no mistake, this is an event that will test you, but will also provide warm hospitality and the opportunity to indulge in our award-winning wines after each day’s riding,” says Carsten. The Breedekloof Valley is just one hour from Cape Town, and includes Rawsonville, Slanghoek, Goudini & Breerivier. The event race village is based at Goudini Spa, making this a family weekend. Participants of the Gravel & Grape will have full access to the resort’s facilities, including the iconic warm baths. Although entries have already closed, the Gravel & Grape are offering an opportunity for 10 teams to enter by Sunday, 23 April.
  3. Travis Walker (front) and teammate Pieter Seyffert (Ellsworth-ASG) lead the pack on Montagu Pass on the second day of the TransCape mountain bike race. The queen stage of the seven-day journey from Knysna to Franschhoek took the riders on a 135km ride between George and Van Wyksdorp. Photo: Jacques Marais The Ellsworth-ASG duo led the field home for the second consecutive day after a typically hot and dusty Karoo leg between George and Van Wyksdorp. They completed the 135km queen stage – the longest of the seven-day event – in 5:30:24 to lead the standings with a combined time of 8:50:10. Belgians Eddy Feliers and Kristof de Neys (Cicero Baik) hung on to their second place overall after placing second on the stage in 5:40:42 for a total time of 9:23:25. They were chased all the way home by David and William Wertheim Aymes (Bromance), who stopped the clock on 5:45:12 to remain in third overall on 9:27:55. After creating a decent buffer on the opening stage, the 30-year-old Seyffert from Helderkruin on the West Rand said they had planned to ride within themselves on the second day. The Ellsworth-ASG team of Travis Walker (front) and Pieter Seyffert consolidated their overall position at the front on the second day of the TransCape mountain bike race. The queen stage of the seven-day journey from Knysna to Franschhoek took the riders on a 135km ride between George and Van Wyksdorp. Photo: Jacques Marais However, his younger partner could not contain his competitive juices and they quickly opened up a gap on Montagu Pass where the gradient kicks up to 14 per cent in places. “Although the intention was to take it slightly easier, I got a bit excited going up Montagu Pass,” admitted the 25-year-old Walker from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal. “Going up the pass the breeze was into us, so climbing was a bit slower than usual. About halfway up I rode to the front and from there we were by ourselves for the rest of the stage.” Tongue firmly in his cheek, Seyffert said he would speak to the organisers about the pace his partner was setting and for “always putting me in the hurt box”. “Jokes aside, he’s an awesome teammate, waiting for me on all the climbs. He rides from the front most of the way and I’m learning to pull myself inside out to keep up with him.” Seyffert, who will target the Cycling South Africa-sanctioned Bestmed Tour of Good Hope road race in the Cape Winelands next month, said the heat combined with the wind had made the lengthy stage a tester. “We had a headwind for most of the day, with a slight tailwind for the last 10 to 15km. It was very hot towards the end with the wind at our backs. Although Montagu Pass – which the peloton faced shortly after the start –was the major ascent on the day, Seyffert said the smaller climbs later on presented more of a challenge. “From about 80km onwards you get those district roads and rolling hills, which I found much tougher. And then, right at the end, the organisers have put in a nasty little 1km climb as a final challenge.” In the men’s solo category, defending champion Billy Stelling came through strongly to take the stage in 5:40:46 to move in to third overall with an aggregate time of 9:59:22. Belgian overnight leader Karl Dossche remained at the head of affairs after placing second in 5:51:23 for a total time of 9:39:38. Alan Tilling completes the overall podium on 9:52:40. Hannele Steyn (right) and Spar teammate Catherine Williamson (second from left) continued to enjoy the journey on the second day of the TransCape mountain bike race. The queen stage of the seven-day event from Knysna to Franschhoek took the riders on a 135km ride between George and Van Wyksdorp. Photo: Jacques Marais Britain’s Catherine Williamson and Hannele Steyn (Spar) lead the women’s category on 9:23:24 after finishing the stage in 5:40:40 and Alma Colyn heads the solo women on 9:41:04 after crossing the line in 5:44:54. Matthias and Denise Kubli won the mixed section in 6:55:49 to remain third overall on 11:40:13. Ian and Jane Seggie were second in 6:59:08 to retain their overnight lead on 11:25:00, with Craig Chidrawi and Charmaine Werdmuller third on the day in 7:06:56 to stay in second overall on 11:39:29. The third stage of 81km will take riders over two major climbs between Van Wyksdorp and Riversdal.
  4. After a rainy opening stage, riders were presented with different conditions today as pace-setters Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker consolidated their overall lead in the TransCape mountain bike race. Click here to view the article
  5. The Ellsworth-ASG duo took control early on to cover the tough 80km ride between Knysna and Wilderness in the Western Cape in 3:19:46. Pieter Seyffert from Ellsworth-ASG was in top form on the opening day of the seven-day TransCape mountain bike race as he and team-mate Travis Walker set the pace on the 80km stage from Knysna to Wilderness today. Photo: Jacques Marais They were followed home by Belgians Eddy Feliers and Kristof de Neys (Cicero Baik) in 3:42:42, with David and William Wertheim Aymes (Bromance) crossing the line in third in 3:42:43. Their commanding performance on a day that took in almost 1 600m of vertical climbing will see the South African pro outfit take a handy buffer into tomorrow’s queen stage. Seyffert, who hails from Helderkruin on the West Rand, said their sizeable lead would allow them the luxury of not having to make the racing on tomorrow’s stage, which is the longest of this year’s event. He said they were building towards next month’s Bestmed Tour of Good Hope in the Cape Winelands and were delighted with their debut outing. “This is our first race together and it will be a good test to see what I have to do as Travis’s partner for upcoming stage races,” said the 30-year-old. “I have a feeling we will be pretty good together. We have had a great start and will build on that as we learn from each other.” After some heavy overnight showers, the riders faced a gentle drizzle through much of the stage, which took in sections of the well-known Seven Passes road – including Phantom Pass early on. Walker, who had recently returned to SA after racing in Europe, said while the weather made the route more treacherous in places, there was a positive side as well. “The rain can be good and bad,” said the 25-year-old, who has settled in Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal. “The roads were quite gravelly and sandy, so the rain meant they were not that slippery and there was no dust from any vehicles going past. “I don’t really mind the drizzle as I prefer it cooler than blazing hot. “On the other hand, some of the parts were very muddy and if you are not too careful you can go around a corner and slide on rocks or roots.” He added the conditions were also prone to causing mechanicals and said the bikes would be checked thoroughly afterwards to assess their condition. Catherine Williamson and Hannele Steyn (Spar) finished in 3:42:44 to take the lead in the women’s section. Hannele Steyn of Spar was delighted to lead the women’s category alongside Britain’s Catherine Williamson after the first stage of the seven-day TransCape mountain bike race that took riders over 80km from Knysna to Wilderness today. Photo: Jacques Marais The 34-year-old Williamson from North Yorkshire in Britain said she was thrilled to be riding with a partner after competing in the solo category last year. “When you ride solo, you have to go flat out and try to hang on to groups. “Riding with a partner is a completely different dynamic and Hannele is such an awesome rider with so much experience,” said the former Cape Epic champion. “We worked nicely together and she was always right on my wheel.” Belgian Karl Dossche found himself leading the men’s solo section in 3:51:23 after initially entering in the team category. “Unfortunately my friend had to withdraw because of family reasons so I went ahead to ride solo,” he explained. “Of course, it would be nicer if he was here, but I had a very good ride on a wonderful course. The rainy conditions were not too bad because in Belgium we are used to that.” Despite taking a wrong turn and adding several kilometres to her day, Alma Colyn completed the stage in 3:56:10 to take the lead in the women’s solo category. “It was an awesome route, even if it was wet and muddy,” she said. “Unfortunately, I took my glasses off at one stage to tuck them in my top and when I looked up I realised I was going straight instead of turning into the forest.” Colyn said she refused to panic and merely turned around to find the correct route. “All you can do is just pray and hope you see another cyclist or a sign board. I was very grateful to get back on track to enjoy an amazing event.” The second stage will take riders over a distance of 135km between George and Van Wyksdorp with 2 450m of ascent. The 690km event finishes in Franschhoek on Saturday. Provisional results:Men’s teams 1 Travis Walker, Pieter Seyffert (3:19:46) 2 Eddy Felliers, Kristof de Neys (3:42:42) 3 David Wertheim Aymes, William Wertheim Aymes (3:42:43) 4 Pierre Cloete, Graeme Cumming (3:53:01) 5 Reynard Tissink, Brandon Harcus (4:03:41) Women’s teams 1 Hannele Steyn, Catherine Williamson (3:42:44) Mixed 1 Ian Seggie, Jane Seggie (4:25:52) 2 Craig Chidrawi, Charmaine Werdmuller (4:32:33) 3 Matthias Kubli, Denise Kubli (4:44:24) 4 Michael de Coster, Yolanda Witteveen (4:58:13) 5 Simon Knutton, Sandra Johannessen (5:45:04) Men’s solo 1 Karl Dossche (3:51:23) 2 Alan Tilling (3:51:24) 3 Malcolm Dods (4:00:47) 4 Peter Hall (4:05:59) 5 James Whitehouse (4:05:59) Women’s solo 1 Alma Colyn (3:36:10) 2 Mandy Langebrink (4:18:35) 3 Nicola Geldenhuys (4:46:35) 4 Chandre Wertheim Aymes (4:52:18) 5 Susan Thornton-Smith (5:07:34)
  6. Despite wet conditions, Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker kicked off their new partnership on a perfect note by winning the opening stage of the seven-day TransCape mountain bike race today. Click here to view the article
  7. Defending champion Johann Rabie and new teammate HB Kruger finished safely in the main pack on the untimed first stage of the 900km Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race today. Click here to view the article
  8. The nine-day event started at Karan Beef in Heidelberg, Gauteng, and took riders over the Vaal River to finish 116km later in the Free State town of Frankfort. Rabie, who is targeting a third title in a row, said the opening day was always about riding at a manageable pace. “I would say we go at about 60 to 65 per cent of our maximum heartrate. It is about taking easy, but not too easy. “It adds a nice dynamic to start the tour like this. It is a long event, so it is quite nice. “There is plenty of racing to come, so I guess there is no need to race too hard on the first day.” Team Telkom’s HB Kruger (left) and Johann Rabie had a comfortable start to the 2016 Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race. The first stage took riders from Heidelberg in Gauteng to Frankfort in the Free State. Photo: Full Stop Communications The 29-year-old Team Telkom professional said the start of any stage race was a nervous affair for everyone. “No one knows how well the other teams are going. It will take two or three days to see where everyone is sitting.” Rabie said he and Kruger were feeling good after the low pressure start. “We’ve had no problems, no health issues and no mechanicals. So far so good. We’ll see how the legs feel after a couple of days of racing.” Having done the event twice before, he said he’s role would be to give his 26-year-old partner pointers as they went along. “I know where the important sections are and where to save energy. So I’ll mentor him in that respect.” Rabie said that although their game plan was to take a conservative approach initially, they would take any opportunity to make up time on their rivals. “There are a few places that we have in mind to possibly make a move or where there are danger areas.” He made no bones about the fact that overall victory was what counted and where the glory was. “We’re not going for stage wins per se, but if it comes it comes.” If they were able to gain time where they had planned, he believed the stage wins would take care of themselves. Rabie felt his former teammate Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell were their most dangerous competition. “Gawie has also won the past two years and Nico is a really strong rider and they are both on really good form. “Then you have two other teams that you cannot write off in Pieter Seyffert and Hanco Kachelhoffer and Andrew Hill and Tyrone White.” With the Old Mutual joBerg2c not being the most technical event, Rabie said it suited his riding style very well. “I have raced it on two previous occasions and won both times, so I obviously like it.” He said the race called for powerful riders who could ride well on the flats and not just wait for the climbs and technical sections. “That’s what joBerg2c is all about. If you have two powerful riders, you can make up a lot of time on the flats.” Britain’s Catherine Williamson, who is a multiple champion in the women’s section, said she had enjoyed the untimed start. Catherine Williamson and Johan Labuschagne of The Bicycle Company-Bestmed had a comfortable start to the 2016 Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race. The first stage took riders from Heidelberg in Gauteng to Frankfort in the Free State. Photo: Full Stop Communications “My legs don’t respond well on the first day of a stage race and being at altitude there is a limit to how hard I can go anyway,” said the 34-year-old who is bidding to win the Lanham-Love Attorneys mixed section alongside Johan Labuschagne. “I ride a day like today on feel,” said The Bicycle Company-Bestmed rider. “You don’t want to spend hours out there but at the same time you don’t really want to hurt your legs too much. “It is also a chance to enjoy the experience and vibe because from tomorrow you’ll have your race head on.” Williamson said their approach was to make early time gains as soon as the proper racing started. “It is not always possible, but it is nice to get in the lead and build up a buffer of a few minutes. Then you always have that gap to fall back on if things go wrong.” However, she said, in a tour of this length it was important to ride your own race. Labuschagne said mixed racing was all about the lady. “It is making sure she is always in a good zone, not overextending herself and keeping her safe and out of trouble. That is my role. “We have to read who is around us and develop our strategy from there.” They regarded America’s Sonja Looney and Japan’s Yuki Ikeda along with South Africa’s Darren Lill and Candice Neethling as their main rivals. Stage two will take the riders from Frankfort to Reitz, a distance of 93km with a mere 1 001m of climbing. You can find the results for Day 1 here.
  9. The versatile Brit, who will ride alongside Johan Labuschagne, said she was fired up for the nine-day event that stretched over 900km from the Highveld town of Heidelberg to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal coast. Britain’s Catherine Williamson has set her sights on the mixed category title at this year’s Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race. Photo: Full Stop Communications Outlining her change of focus, the 34-year-old from north Yorkshire – who will be riding for The Bicycle Company-Mitas team – said she was looking forward to the strong competition in the category. “There has always been a strong mixed field at joBerg2c and so the organisers have put more emphasis on this category. Though it makes for a harder week, it’s much better to race in a competitive category.” The organisers have announced that mixed teams will receive equal prize-money to men this year due to a sponsorship from commercial law firm Lanham-Love Attorneys. The move, which will see the top mixed team earn a R50 000 bonus, was aimed at attracting more female participants, said race director Craig Wapnick. Williamson has a fair amount of experience in mixed racing having podiumed in the joBerg2c, Berg and Bush and Cape Epic “Johan has a lot more experience in the mixed category, so what he says goes. He managed the Sasol team last year and is the reason I’m still racing in South Africa. “He is a very strong partner. He can drive the group along the flat and is also good to follow on the descents.” While the pair will be looking to contend for the title, Williamson offered a note of caution. “We obviously want to race as hard as we can but, as with any stage race, there are many things that can go wrong. So it’s best to go in there with the intention of enjoying the experience, while racing to your best ability.” Williamson’s attitude is indicative of her philosophy towards the joBerg2c. “It has always been my favourite race on the calendar. I have missed one with a broken leg and it was the most depressing nine days of my life. “Racing for me isn’t just about the outcome and the result, it is about the memories you take from each race, the friendships you make, the scenery and the atmosphere in the camp. “joBerg2c ticks all the boxes for me, plus it’s long enough to be totally exhausted by the end, which is always a nice feeling.” Williamson has spent the last few weeks at home to prepare for the cold starts. “I’ve stayed on the road to get a bit more speed in my legs for the flatter stages, plus the fact that any off-road training in Yorkshire at the moment requires a snorkel.” She said she was pleased with the route changes, which includes a shortened day four and an entirely different sixth stage. “Each year the route is slightly different, which is great. There is more single-track every year and while I haven’t looked into each stage in detail, I’m sure the tweaks will be for the better. “I love the fact that joBerg2c traverses such different landscapes. From the flat farmlands to the mountains and then finally arriving at the coast feels like a real journey.” Williamson regarded American Sonja Looney and Japan’s Yuki Ikeda as one of the teams to watch. “I think Sonja and Yuki will be very strong together. I have met them both – Sonja in Mongolia and Yuki in Canada. They have tons of stage race experience and I regard them as two of the best in the world.” Another team sure to be in the mix will be South Africans Grant Usher and Amy Beth McDougall. The Lanham-Love Valencia pairing placed second and first respectively in the inaugural Munga.
  10. Former women’s champion Catherine Williamson has set her sights on the mixed category title at this year’s Old Mutual joBerg2c international mountain bike race that starts on Friday. Click here to view the article
  11. In 2016 they will be riding together in yet another of the power combinations that are set to make the women’s race one of the most intriguing ever. In 2011 Süss and countryman Barti Bucher dominated the Mixed category and a year later she joined forces with another Briton, Sally Bigham, to win the Women’s category. But Süss has had mixed fortunes in the world’s premier mountain bike stage race since then and will be hoping that all that will change in 2016 when she partners with Williamson (Team Meerendal Wheeler). They are already a proven combination, having triumphed together in the 2015 Cape Pioneer Trek. But 41-year-old Süss and her 33-year-old partner were both playing down their chances against defending Epic champions Annika Langvad and Ariane Kleinhans. “We will try to get podiums as much as possible,” Süss said. “I think an overall win will be very difficult.” Williamson added: “I hope we can achieve an overall podium position and maybe even a stage win. The Epic is attracting the best field in the world of stage races now so I know it’s a tall order to even get on the podium. But I think with a lot of training, a little bit of luck and such a strong partner as Esther it is possible.” Their modesty aside, they will be fancied by most fans to be at the sharp end of the field and to challenge the leading women’s teams. Süss is a strong rider over longer distances and also has a marathon world championship to her name. Williamson is a stage race specialist and finished first in the 2013 Absa Cape Epic with Yolande Speedy. Williamson was fulsome in her praise of Süss: “She is an amazing athlete and I have a huge amount of respect for her as she is also a fun person to ride with. I spent most of the Pioneer trying to sit on her wheel but I was never made to feel under pressure and we were consistent the whole week through.” Williamson is already in the Cape to train in South African conditions: “I have increased my strength work this winter so I'm hoping that will help with the steep climbs in the Epic,” she said. “I love every thing about mountain bike stage races, from the challenge of the terrain to the friendships you make along the way. My strongest asset I think is not only my endurance for multi-day races, but also being able to accept and deal with whatever is thrown in your path – and during such a tough race as the Epic there are always lots of things thrown everywhere.” What brings them back to the Absa Cape Epic? “The ambiance, the challenge, the country,” said Süss. Williamson added: “It is always different from other stage races as it attracts so many competitors and spectators and at some point the weather also throws in its own challenges, be it by turning freezing cold and raining or blowing a gale. These things always make for a memorable and super challenging week. To miss it would feel like missing out.”
  12. Switzerland’s Esther Süss has graced the top step of countless mountain bike podiums over the years, with two Absa Cape Epic wins being foremost among her successes. And Briton Catherine Williamson has similarly savoured victory in the Women’s category of the world’s premier mountain bike stage race. Click here to view the article
  13. The seventh edition of the Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race ended on Saturday with South Africans Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns of SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 claiming the overall victory. Switzerland’s Esther Suss and Great Britain’s Catherine Williamson of Sasol Racing claimed the women’s title. Click here to view the article
  14. Matthys Beukes (left) and Gert Heyns of SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 celebrate their overall victory at the end of Stage 6 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon Beukes and Heyns won a total of three stages. Their combination of power and skill on Stage 3 from Oudtshoorn to De Rust, which they won comfortably, was the defining day for them. And a win on Stage 4 at the summit of the Swartberg Pass confirmed their superiority in a race that delivered tight podium battles daily. Stage 3 also proved the defining stage in the women’s race when the powerful pairing of Suss and Williamson conceded their increasingly solid lead due to punctures. But a gritty Stage 4 effort saw them climb back into the lead with a stunning ascent of the Swartberg Pass. Philip Buys (left) and Arno du Toit of SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 on their way to winning Stage 6 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon Philip Buys and Anro du Toit of SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 won the final stage, a 68km haul from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn to secure their third stage win of the seven-day event. Dylan Rebello and Thinus Redlinghuys of Team Jeep finished second for their best stage result of the week with the Dutch duo of Bram Rood and Mos Gerben (KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen) rounding out the podium places for the day. Italian brothers Roberto and Emanuele Crisi (Celeste Kento Avvenia) were second in the overall race, 14:33 down on Beukes and Heyns, with Rood and Gerben rounding out an international podium blend. In the women’s race on Saturday, Suss and Williamson secured their fifth stage win to grab their first overall title by what is the closest ever victory margin in the women’s division. After seven days and 541km of racing, their lead was a relatively slim 7min14sec over the Team Ascendis Health pairing of Robyn de Groot (RSA) and Jennie Stenerhag (SWE). South Africans Marlene Lourens and Desiree Loubser (Fair Cape) were third. Esther Suss (left) and Catherine Williamson celebrate winning the overall women's race and Stage 6 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon With six stage wins, including the final leg, South Africans Rob Sim and Doug Brown (Trek Robert Daniel) dominated the Veteran’s category, while Waleed Baker and Joao Mendes (PitstopSport24hrs), stage winners on the final day, secured the Masters’ crown with a measured consistency that saw them claim five stage wins. The Mixed category saw Oudtshoorn residents Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo Mixed) claim a comfortable overall victory, neatly concluded with a win on the final stage, which finished in their home town. It was their sixth stage win of the event underlining their superiority in the division. Riders descend beneath the red stone rock formations during Stage 6 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter made the Solo women’s race her own, with four stage wins, while Craig Uria triumphed after a race-long battle in the competitive Solo men’s category, securing victory on the final stage too. A total of 78 two-rider teams and 27 solo competitors completed the seven-day race, which took place in mostly warm to hot, dry conditions and included some of the Western Cape’s most dramatic landscapes, ranging from the beaches of Mossel Bay to the forests in George to the monstrous climb of the Swartberg Pass, which separates the Small Karoo and the Great Karoo semi-deserts. Riders from 15 nations contested the event, which holds an International Cycling Union grading offering rankings points to the top 25 overall finishers in the men and women’s team divisions, a useful boost for nations in their quest to secure Rio Olympic Games quota allocations. The leading riders get to grips with a tight left turn on Stage 6 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, South Africa. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon For more information on the Cape Pioneer Trek, visit www.capepioneer.co.za and for photo galleries, find Cape Pioneer Trek on Facebook. Cape Pioneer Trek 2015 Stage 6, 68km from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn Leading results Men: 1 Philip Buys (RSA) / Arno du Toit (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 2:25:21 2 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Team Jeep 4:13:16 3 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 2:27:25 4 Roberto Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 2:30:10 5 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) / Chris Wolhuter (RSA) – Asrin Pro Cycling 2:33:02 Women: 1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 2:44:25 2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 2:44:33 3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 3:29:18 Veteran men: 1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 2:38:21 2 Frank Schmaehling (GER) / Felix Prinz (GER) – Epic Fighters 2:44:15 3 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) Bus Boys 2:47:44 Master men: 1 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 2:52:10 2 Dirk Labuschagne (RSA) / Andre Taylor (RSA) – Rothwell-Risksolve 3:00:59 3 Anton Terblanche (RSA) / Hein Giliomee (RSA) – Seattle 3:03:15 Mixed: 1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 2:49:39 2 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 2:52:03 3 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) / Igna de Villiers (RSA) – Sasol Mixed 2:52:13 Solo men: 1 Craig Uria (RSA) 2:34:07 2 Shane Daniel (RSA) 2:38:00 3 Raoul de Jongh (RSA) 2:38:31 Solo women: 1 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 3:04:56 2 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 3:08:28 3 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 3:18:18 Thinus Redlinghuys (left) and Dylan Rebello of Team Jeep on their way to second place on Stage 6 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn, South Africa.Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon General Classification after Stage 5 Leading results Men: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 21:46:10 2 Robert Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 22:00:44 3 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 22:06:22 4 Philip Buys (RSA) / Arno du Toit (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 22:15:57 5 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Team Jeep 22:17:02 Women: 1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 24:51:42 2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 24:58:57 3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 31:16:53 Veteran men: 1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 23:27:15 2 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) – Bus Boys 25:11:04 3 Frank Schmaehling (GER) / Felix Prinz (GER) – Epic Fighters 25:38:22 Master men: 1 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 26:30:25 2 Jozef de Meyer (BEL) / Renaat Verbeke (BEL) – L4 L5 28;24:08 3 Dirk Labuschagne (RSA) / Andre Taylon (RSA) – Rothwell-Risksolve 29:07:55 Mixed: 1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 25:27:53 2 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) / Igna de Villiers (RSA) – Sasol Mixed 26:28:19 3 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 26:31:51 Solo men: 1 Craig Uria (RSA) 23:10:38 2 Richard Damant (RSA) 23:33:29 3 Raoul de Jongh (RSA) 23:58:45 Solo women: 1 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 29:26:27 2 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 30:08:43 3 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 30:52:41 For full results visit www.capepioneer.co.za.
  15. Riders climb the magnficent Swartberg Pass to the mountain-top finish on Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from De Rust to Swartberg Pass, South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. After punctures robbed them of their ability to defend their lead on Wednesday’s Stage 3, Suss and Williamson used their superior climbing strength on Thursday’s 66.3km leg from De Rust to the Swartberg Pass summit to reclaim the race lead from Ascendis Health’s Robyn de Groot (RSA) and Jennie Stenerhag (SWE). In the men’s race, South Africans Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns (SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1) confirmed their status as the strongest team in the race when they won their third stage and extended their overall lead. Mountain-top finishes are rare in mountain bike racing, but the summit-finish on the Swartberg Pass, a tourism icon, has become a signature stage in the Cape Pioneer Trek over the past few years. At 66.3km, the stage was short, but with 2150m of climbing, it was always going to favour the strong ascenders. There were a number of climbs to be conquered during Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from De Rust to Swartberg Pass, South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. With almost an eight-minute deficit to De Groot and Stenerhag at the start, Suss and Williamson were focussed on pulling as much of that back as they could on Thursday. Their time of 03 hours 15 minutes 59 seconds was just more than 10 minutes quicker than the Ascendis Health pair, giving them the lead again by fairly slim 2:28 margin with two days remaining. “We had nothing to lose. We felt we could try to make up half our deficit today and the other half tomorrow. But we were quite motivated when we realised on the last climb that we had a decent gap on Robyn and Jennie. So we just gave all we had to the top and it really paid off,” explained Williamson. “We have a very small lead now so we will just be cautious and go hard on the climbs. Esther is so strong on the climbs, which gives us an advantage, but I’m not sure how much today’s effort took out of us. Hopefully, we’ll be able to defend this lead tomorrow,” added Williamson. Matthys Beukes and Gert Heyns of SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 head towards the stage victory during Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from De Rust to Swartberg Pass, South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. With a lead of almost 19 minutes over the Italian brothers, Emanuele and Roberto Crisi (Celeste Kento Avvenia) at the start, Beukes and Heyns simply had to sit on and let their rivals make the racing. And the siblings were game for the challenge, never far from the front on the early slopes and then setting the pace most of the way up the final climb. Using their local knowledge, the tall South Africans waited for the start of the steep last kilometre to make their move, surging past their rivals to claim the stage win in a time of 2:50:32. The Crisi siblings crossed the line 25 seconds later with Team Jeep’s Dylan Rebello (RSA) and Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) rounding out the top three in 2:52:03. “We rode a tactical race today and it worked out well because we got the win. We pushed the pace in the lead group every time we hit rough terrain to tire our rivals out as much as possible before the big climb and gradually the lead bunch thinned out. I must say the Italian brothers were strong and they climbed well, but we put in our move with about a kilometre to go and it was perfect,” said Beukes. Catherine Williamson (left) and Esther Suss of Sasol Racing head towards stage victory in the women's race during Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from De Rust to Swartberg Pass, South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. “I think tomorrow’s stage will be the hardest, partly because everyone is tired and also because of the technical sections later on in the stage, which need a lot of power and focus. Gert and I have a decent lead, but we will take no risks and just try to maintain that lead now,” added Beukes. In the Veteran men’s race, Rob Sim and Doug Brown won their fourth stage, over 17 minutes ahead of Germans Frank Schmaehling and Felix Prinz (Epic Fighters), who achieved their first podium place of the race. Sim and Brown still have a healthy overall lead over Greg Anderson and Deon Kruger (Bus Boys) with Schmaehling and Prinz now up to third place. The Master’s race suffered a blow when double stage-winners and the second placed overall team of Izak Visagie and Lieb Loots (Wilde Masters) had to withdraw on Wednesday due to Visagie suffering illness. That opened up the race for the podium somewhat behind Joao Mendes and Waleed Baker (PitstopSport24hrs), the category leaders, who won Wednesday’s stage. Italian brothers Roberto and Emanuele Crisi of Celeste Kento Avvenia (numbers 100-1 and 100-2) lead the front pack during the early part of Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from De Rust to Swartberg Pass, South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. Second place was taken by the Belgian pairing of Jozef De Meyer and Renaat Verbeke (Team L4L5), with South Africans Dirk Labuschagne and Andre Taylor (Rothwell-Risksolve) claiming third. In the overall, race PitstopSport24hrs have a commanding lead over Team L4L5. The Mixed category race on Wednesday was a four-way tussle, which was decided only on the upper slopes of the Swartberg Pass. Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo Mixed) claimed the win – their fourth – but were just half a minute faster than Katja Cauwenbergh and Ken van den Bulke (Topbike) with the Sasol Mixed pair of Daleen van der Leek and Igna de Villiers grabbing the final podium spot just over two minutes later. In the overall, Klein Karoo Mixed hold a solid lead over Danny Fowler and Monica Glover (The Bicycle Service Company), who in turn are just 18 seconds up on De Villiers and Van der Leek. The Solo men’s race continues to be closely contested with Richard Damant winning the stage and clawing back some time on overall leader, Craig Uria, who was 47 seconds down in second at the mountain-top finish. Uria still holds more than an 11-minute advantage over Damant in the General Classification with two days to go. Lara-ann Everts-Van Deventer maintained her command of the Solo women’s division with another stage win and a lead extension over nearest rival, Carmen Andrews. Catherine Williamson (right) holds onto the pocket of Sasol Racing teammate, Esther Suss, for a tow up the final climb during Stage 4 of the Cape Pioneer Trek from De Rust to Swartberg Pass, South Africa on Thursday. Photo credit: Zoon Cronje/Nikon. Friday’s Stage 5 over 108km from Prince Albert to Calitzdorp will take the riders over the Swartberg Pass again, this time from the opposite direction. Dubbed #SwartbergSequel, the stage will have the added incentive of R50 000 in prize money for the fastest teams or solo riders to cross the summit of the Swartberg Pass. The distance to the summit from the start of the stage is approximately 20km, with more than half of that up the big climb. The Open Men, Women’s, Veteran and Master categories will have to continue to observe the UCI rule of riders being no more than two minutes apart, but the rule will be relaxed for the Mixed category. And Solo riders will be included in the dash-for-cash contest. The first team or rider across the summit will earn R15000, the second team or rider will earn R7000 and the third team or rider will pocket R3000. This will apply to both men and women. 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 4, 66.3km from De Rust to Swartberg Pass Leading results Men: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 2hrs50min32sec 2 Roberto Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 2:50:58 3 Dylan Rebello (RSA) / Thinus Redlinghuys (RSA) – Team Jeep 2:52:58 4 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) / Chris Wolhuter (RSA) – Asrin Pro Cycling 2:53:03 5 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 2:54:16 Women: 1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 3:15:59 2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 3:26:17 3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 4:20:17 Veteran men: 1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 3:08:23 2 Frank Schmaehling (GER) / Felix Prinz (GER) – Epic Fighters 3:25:53 3 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) Bus Boys 3:26:50 Master men: 1 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 3:37:05 2 Jozef de Meyer (BEL) / Renaat Verbeke (BEL) – L4 L5 3:51:44 3 Dirk Labuschagne (RSA) / Andre Taylor (RSA) – Rothwell-Risksolve 3:53:02 Mixed: 1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 3:25:11 2 Katja Cauwenbergh (BEL) / Ken van den Bulke (BEL) – Topbike 3:25:43 3 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) / Igna de Villiers (RSA) – Sasol Mixed 3:28:13 Solo men: 1 Richard Damant (RSA) 3:05:06 2 Craig Uria (RSA) 3:05:54 3 Sven Kleine (RSA) 3:11:56 Solo women: 1 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 4:04:14 2 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 4:09:26 3 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 4:31:25 General Classification after Stage 4 Leading results Men: 1 Matthys Beukes (RSA) / Gert Heyns (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 1 14:58:23 2 Roberto Crisi (ITA) /Emanuele Crisi (ITA) – Celeste Kento Avvenia 15:17:31 3 Bram Rood (NED) / Mos Gerben (NED) – KMC-Mitsubishi-Koga-Stauwdam Assen 15:26:00 4 Philip Buys (RSA) / Arno du Toit (RSA) – SCOTT Factory Racing LCB 2 15:27:02 5 Alan Gordon (RSA) / Ben-Melt Swanepoel (RSA) – Navworld-Squirtlube 15:36:01 Women: 1 Catherine Williamson (GBR) / Esther Suss (SUI) – Sasol Racing 17:16:31 2 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) / Robyn de Groot (RSA) – Ascendis Health 17:18:58 3 Marlene Lourens (RSA) / Desiree Loubser (RSA) – Fair Cape 21:35:48 Veteran men: 1 Rob Sim (RSA) / Doug Brown (RSA) – Trek Robert Daniel 16:11:07 2 Greg Anderson (RSA) / Deon Kruger (RSA) – Bus Boys 17:23:11 3 Frank Schmaehling (GER) / Felix Prinz (GER) – Epic Fighters 17:51:06 Master men: 1 Joao Mendes (RSA) / Waleed Baker (RSA) – PitstopSport24hrs 18:22:54 2 Jozef de Meyer (BEL) / Renaat Verbeke (BEL) – L4 L5 19:56:32 3 Anton Terblanche (RSA) / Hein Gilomee (RSA) – Seattle 20:22:33 Mixed: 1 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 17:37:31 2 Monica Glover (RSA) / Danny Fowler (RSA) – The Bicycle Service Company 18:26:14 3 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) / Igna de Villiers (RSA) – Sasol Mixed 18:26:32 Solo men: 1 Craig Uria (RSA) 16:03:23 2 Richard Damant (RSA) 16:14:48 3 Sven Kleine (RSA) 16:34:23 Solo women: 1 Lara-Ann Everts-Van de Venter (RSA) 20:33:38 2 Carmen Andrews (RSA) 17:14:56 21:24:29 3 Katja Steenkamp (RSA) 23:13:59 For full results visit www.capepioneer.co.za.
  16. Switzerland’s former marathon world champion, Esther Suss and her British teammate, Catherine Williamson, of Team Sasol Racing, used the final gruelling climb up the Swartberg Pass to reclaim the lead in the women’s race at the 2015 Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race in South Africa on Thursday. Click here to view the article
  17. The pair had never competed together previously however their joBerg2c success suggests they will be serious challengers for this year’s women’s title come the popular three-day clash in mid-May. Sasol Racing's Catherine Williamson (left) and Yolande de Villiers (right) are eager to add this year's Nedbank sani2c to the Old Mutual joBerg2c crown they clinched over the weekend. “We confirmed our partnership for both joBerg2c and sani2c at the Cape Epic earlier this year. Luckily Catherine was available to help us and its actually gone so well so far that I think I may even ask her if we can ride together for the rest of the races as well!” laughs De Villiers. “We opted to do joBerg2c in preparation for sani as we’ve actually never ridden together before so we knew we were probably going to go through a bit of a learning curve together during joBerg but it was a really good few days on the bike for us. “joBerg2c also gave us a good chance to have a look at the trails ahead of sani2c so it was really good preparation in that sense as well.” Many would expect a few teething issues with a new partnership however the pair have competed in a various stages races previously and their wealth of experience saw them hit it off from the get go. “At the end of the day even though you’re racing with someone else, you’ve both got to get yourself to the finish line, however you do that,” explains Williamson. “You just have to do so with the other person in mind as well.” “You’ve got to learn what each other’s strengths and weaknesses are and then you play to that. If you are able to do that well then you’ll probably come in in as shorter time as you’re capable of and I think that’s something we’ve done quite well already. “It’s all about working with your partner, knowing when to push yourself over the limit and when then to sit back and relax a bit,” she adds. De Villiers echoes Williamson’s sentiments. “Catherine is a very good rider and a great team mate both on and off the bike! We’ve really clicked as a team very well so far. “Catherine is really funny and constantly joking and I really enjoy her humour.” While aware of the needed shift in style from the nine day long joBerg2c to the snappy racing style of the Nedbank sani2c, both riders are confident they can make the necessary adjustment and are looking forward to a stiff challenge in the women’s tussle this year. “sani2c is just so quick! Sometimes if you’ve got joBerg2c in your legs then you can fell a little slow off the mark at sani so that’s obviously something we’ll look to make sure we avoid,” says Williamson. “I’m sure there will be some really strong women’s teams on the line with us. Ariane (Kleinhans) and Cherise (Stander) as well as Jennie (Stenerhag) and Robyn (de Groot) will definitely be a couple of really tough team but that’s exactly what we’re hoping for!” adds De Villiers. The 11th edition of the Nedbank sani2c's gets underway when the Trail event takes place from 12-14 May 2015. The Adventure then unfolds from 13-15 May before the cream of the the country's top mountain bikers do battle during the Race from 14-16 May. More information can be found at www.sani2c.co.za.
  18. Fresh off their victory in the 2015 Old Mutual joBerg2c, Sasol Racing’s Yolande de Villiers and Catherine Williamson have already shifted their focus to a strong showing in the women’s clash of the upcoming Nedbank sani2c which takes place from Glencairn Farm at the base of Sani Pass to Scottburgh Main Beach on KZN’s South Coast from 14-16 May. Click here to view the article
  19. The EAI Cycling duo took half a dozen stage wins, including the final stage, en route to overall honours in the sixth edition of the 900km mountain bike race for a combined time of 34:38:51. Eventual winners of the 2015 Old Mutual joBerg2c, from left, Gawie Combrinck and Johann Rabie (EAI Cycling) lead Hanco Kachelhoffer and Pieter Seyffert (Altech Autopage Karan Beef), and Justin Tuck and David George (The Gear Change) through the sugar cane fields en route to Scottburgh. Combrinck and Rabie won the nine-day mountain bike race on Saturday. // Photo: Full Stop Communications. Day seven winners Hanco Kachelhoffer and Pieter Seyffert, riding in the colours of Altech Autopage Karan Beef, fought all the way to the line but failed to narrow the almost 20-minute time gap to settle for second in 34:58:11. Former winner David George and new partner Justin Tuck rounded out the general classification for The Gear Change in 35:14:06. Combrinck said he and Rabie were delighted with their result after a busy start to their competitive calendar. “We’ve done a lot of racing this year so far, so winning joBerg2c again is a really nice way to round off the first half of our season. “This is a very special race. There aren’t many events that go from the middle of the country all the way down to the coast.” After departing Jolivet Farm near Highflats on the final day, the three lead teams stayed together for most of the 84km route as they rolled through sugar cane plantations down towards the sea. When Rabie suffered a mechanical halfway into the stage, he and Combrinck were forced to chase back hard until they closed down their rivals again. The two were first out of the singletrack as they hit the beach but a slight navigational miscalculation put them, followed by Kachelhoffer and Seyffert, on the alternative chicken run around Scottburgh Lagoon instead of the floating bridge across it. The champs nevertheless had enough time in hand and were able to race into the finish first in 2:48:26, just five seconds clear of Kachelhoffer and Seyffert, with George and Tuck trailing them home across the water in 2:50:53. “We weren’t going for the stage win today,” said Combrinck. “We just wanted to make it here safely, so we’re glad it worked out.” In the women’s race, two-time winner Catherine Williamson notched up her third triumph alongside new teammate Yolande de Villiers after winning the final stage in 3:05:33. EAI Cycling’s Johann Rabie (left) and Gawie Combrinck celebrate their victory in the nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race on Saturday. The event followed a 900km route from Heidelberg, just south of Johannesburg, to Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. // Photo: Full Stop Communications. The SasolRacing duo did not drop a single stage as they powered towards an uncontested overall victory in 38:33:35. Williamson said she was “over the moon” with her trio of wins and amazed at her teammate’s strength. “It’s my favourite race and it couldn’t get any better now that I’ve had my third victory,” said the British racer. “I want to keep coming back here every year – it’s got such a great vibe and to win is the bonus.” With three stages apiece, the hotly contested mixed category was characterised by a ding-dong battle between Seattle Coffee’s Billy Stelling and Carmen Buchacher and Valencia Cycling’s Samantha Sanders and Justin Victor. Overnight leaders Stelling and Buchacher eventually stormed into the finish to take the stage and the top spot in the standings in 3:02:41 (39:01:21). “We just fought and fought. There were some nervous moments there and five kilometres from the finish we nearly went down,” said Stelling. “Carmen’s been sick throughout the week but she’s shown great courage. It’s never in the bag until you’re over the line, and we’re so chuffed.” Chris Brand and Paul Furbank of the USN-Cycle Lab team were crowned undisputed City Lodge masters champions in 3:05:26 (37:55:27). HiddenHunger’s Sean Henderson and riding mate David de Lima, who rode with broken ribs after crashing in the earlier stages, showed their class to take the veterans’ category in 3:04:13 (39:01:37). In the solo race, Timothy Hammond of Ultimate Cycle Base in Botswana was pipped on the day by Dorma’s German rider Nico Pfitzenmaier. He trailed Pfitzenmaier by three seconds in 2:52:11 but his substantial overall lead kept the title in his grasp in 35:33:34. Paula Hardy took the women’s competition in 43:27:58, after finishing second on the day in 3:36:15, five minutes and 20 seconds behind Germany’s Gabriele Forster. Blind Kenyan rider Douglas Sidialo and his tandem pilot John Mwangi, who broke his collarbone after crashing on the penultimate stage, showed their grit as they completed their 900km journey. The pair received a heroes’ welcome from the crowds who gathered on the beach and the race’s Paolo Beltramo memorial award for courage in the face of adversity for their efforts. For the full results and all the highlights from the daily stages, delivered by Avis Van Rental, visit www.joberg2c.co.za. For updates, follow @joberg2c_journo or find the race on Facebook. RESULTS Stage 9 Men: 1. Johann Rabie & Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) 2:48:26; 2. Pieter Seyffert & Hanco Kachelhoffer (Altech Autopage Karan Beef) 2:48:31; 3. David George & Justin Tuck (The Gear Change) 2:50:53 Women: 1. Catherine Williamson & Yolande de Villiers (SasolRacing) 3:05:33; 2. Sarah van Heerden & Cindy Theunissen (Old Mutual) 3:29:39; 3. Landy Puddu & Rebecca van der Linde (Wild Chix) 3:32:20 Mixed: 1. Carmen Buchacher & Billy Stelling (Seattle Coffee) 3:02:41; 2. Hayley Smith & Darryn Purtell (Bell Equipment) 3:12:31; 3. Samantha Sanders & Justin Victor (Valencia Mixed) 3:15:50 Overall Men: 1. Johann Rabie & Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) 34:38:51; 2. Pieter Seyffert & Hanco Kachelhoffer (Altech Autopage Karan Beef) 34:58:11; 3. David George & Justin Tuck (The Gear Change) 35:14:06 Women: 1. Catherine Williamson & Yolande de Villiers (SasolRacing) 38:33:35; 2. Sarah van Heerden & Cindy Theunissen (Old Mutual) 43:13:13; 3. Landy Puddu & Rebecca van der Linde (Wild Chix) 48:05:37 Mixed: 1. Carmen Buchacher & Billy Stelling (Seattle Coffee) 39:01:21; 2. Samantha Sanders & Justin Victor (Valencia Mixed) 39:21:28; 3. Hayley Smith & Darryn Purtell (Bell Equipment) 41:05:03
  20. Defending champions Gawie Combrinck and Johann Rabie swept to their second straight victory in the nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c at Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast on Saturday. Click here to view the article
  21. The EAI Cycling pair took their fourth consecutive stage win on the 97km route from Nottingham Road to Glencairn Farm in the shadow of Sani Pass to extend their overall lead to more than 18 minutes. EAI Cycling’s Johann Rabie (left) and Gawie Combrinck all but sealed their victory on day six of the nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c near Underberg on Wednesday. // Photo: Full Stop Communications. Rabie and Combrinck cruised into the finish in a time of 4:17:47, just 38 seconds clear of The Gear Change’s David George and Justin Tuck, with Hanco Kachelhoffer and Pieter Seyffert of Altech Autopage Karan Beef third in 4:20:57. After the mountainous stage, which saw riders ascend Snow Top Mountain – the highest point on the nine-day route – the leaders retained their similarly lofty spot in the standings with an aggregate time of 24:47:34. Despite crashing heavily, Avis Van Rental’s Tyronne White and partner Andrew Hill still managed to place fourth on the stage in 4:22:37 to remain second in the general classification in 25:05:47. Kachelhoffer and Seyffert rounded out the overall podium in 25:06:53. Heavy mist dampened the start of the day’s racing from Clifton Preparatory School but after an enforced 10km neutral zone the four teams quickly broke away. They stayed together as they headed for the foothills of the southern Drakensberg until White crashed with 20km to go on the aptly named Face Plantation stretch. “We were coming down off the top of Winterhoek after the second waterpoint and as we reached the tribal land area Tyronne got on the wrong side of David when he swerved to avoid a rutted section and landed rather heavily,” said Hill. Their three rival teams initially sat up but then decided to make the most of White and Hill’s misfortunes as they headed up the last technical climb on the Red Bull Run. Rabie lifted the pace on the ascent to shake Kachelhoffer and Seyffert before the final two-team chase towards the finish. In the mixed category, overnight leaders Samantha Sanders and Justin Victor rode hard all day to catch yesterday’s stage winners Billy Stelling and Carmen Buchacher of Seattle Coffee with two kilometres to go. “We caught them in this last section but we worked pretty hard for it,” said Sanders. “They were way ahead of us but we closed the gap, rode their wheel, recovered, and then just put the hammer down.” The Valencia Cycling duo took the stage win in 5:01:06 for an overall time of 28:06:40, which translates into a lead of more than five minutes. Women’s race leaders Catherine Williamson and Yolande de Villiers of SasolRacing lost valuable time after the first waterpoint when Williamson suffered a sidewall puncture. But they recovered well to claim the stage win in 5:04:24 to remain safely ahead on 27:39:02. Men’s solo category leader Timothy Hammond also asserted his authority with another stage win in 4:25:32 (25:31:05). Paula Hardy finished second on the day in 5:51:13 to remain at the front of the women’s solo race (30:34:51). In the City Lodge masters and vets categories, the leading teams also remain unchanged after stage six. USN-Cycle Lab’s Chris Brand and Paul Furbank (4:46:25; 26:54:07) and HiddenHunger’s David de Lima and Sean Henderson (5:03:59; 27:55:01) were the respective winners on the day. The 79km seventh stage takes riders to Mackenzie Club near Ixopo. For the full results and all the highlights from the daily stages, delivered by Avis Van Rental, visit www.joberg2c.co.za. For updates, follow @joberg2c_journo or find the race on Facebook. RESULTS Stage 6 Men: 1. Johann Rabie & Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) 4:17:47; 2. David George & Justin Tuck (The Gear Change) 4:18:25; 3. Pieter Seyffert & Hanco Kachelhoffer (Altech Autopage Karan Beef) 4:20:57 Women: 1. Catherine Williamson & Yolande de Villiers (SasolRacing) 5:04:24; 2. Sarah van Heerden & Cindy Theunissen (Old Mutual) 5:39:54; 3. Susan Zorzetto & Alice Leao (BRA Alegria) 6:03:48 Mixed: 1. Samantha Sanders & Justin Victor (Valencia Mixed) 5:01:06; 2. Carmen Buchacher & Billy Stelling (Seattle Coffee) 5:01:22; 3. Hayley Smith & Darryn Purtell (Bell Equipment) 5:14:40 Overall Men: 1. Johann Rabie & Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) 24:47:34; 2. Andrew Hill & Tyronne White (Avis Van Rental) 25:05:47; 3. Pieter Seyffert & Hanco Kachelhoffer (Altech Autopage Karan Beef) 25:06:53 Women: 1. Catherine Williamson & Yolande de Villiers (SasolRacing) 27:39:02; 2. Sarah van Heerden & Cindy Theunissen (Old Mutual) 30:42:26; 3. Carla Plens & Graziela Takay (Mazi Capital) 34:31:50 Mixed: 1. Samantha Sanders & Justin Victor (Valencia Mixed) 28:06:40; 2. Carmen Buchacher & Billy Stelling (Seattle Coffee) 28:11:54; 3. Hayley Smith & Darryn Purtell (Bell Equipment) 29:25:31
  22. Defending champions Johann Rabie and Gawie Combrinck delivered another workmanlike performance to all but seal their victory on day six of the Old Mutual joBerg2c near Underberg in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday. Click here to view the article
  23. Stefan Sahm of Team Bulls, leads the front pack during the first half of Stage 2 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek on Saturday. Sahm went on to win the stage overall and extend his lead in the Solo men's division. // Photo credit: www.oakpics.com From the beginning of the 89km stage, which started in cool conditions, the pace was rapid and the atmosphere combative and, while it may have broken the spirits of most of the 600-strong field, the 20km long Merino Monster climb, and subsequent descent, proved to be the deciding factor in the stage wins of the racing categories. Erik Kleinhans and James Reid (Team RECM) managed to win their second successive stage and extend their overall lead in the Men’s Team division with one stage remaining. But they were two minutes behind the first rider home, Germany’s three-time Cape Epic winner, Stefan Sahm (Team Bulls), who is competing in – and dominating – the Solo men’s category. Robyn de Groot gives Ascendis Health teammate, Jennie Stenerhag a push on the way up the Merino Monster mountain ascent during Stage 2 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek on Saturday. The pair went on to win the stage and extend their overall lead. // Photo credit: www.oakpics.com The first women home were once again the Ascendis Health pair of Robyn de Groot and Jennie Stenerhag, while the first Solo woman was Great Britain’s Catherine Williamson (Asrin Cycling). The top mixed pair was Asrin Cycling’s Candice Neethling and Craig Boyes. All were repeat winners so have now extended their respective General Classification leads with Sunday’s final leg to come. “Erik was once again super strong today. He put the pressure on the rest from the start and it was a relentless pace,” explained Team RECM's James Reid. Nearest rivals Waylon Woolcock and Darren Lill (Red-E Blend) suffered an early setback when a thorn bush became tangled in Woolcock’s rear wheel on the first long descent. They lost two-and-a-half minutes and had to chase hard to rejoin the leaders. The battle for supremacy on the climb up the Merino Monster on Stage 2 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek was between the Red-E Blend pair of Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock, the Team RECM pair of Erik Kleinhans and James Reid and Team Bulls' Stefan Sahm. // Photo credit: www.oakpics.com “We were ahead with Stefan (Sahm) by the time we reached the big climb. Then about half way up Waylon and Darren caught us and actually put in an attack!” recalled Reid. But the five riders soon regrouped and Kleinhans surged near the top to claim the cash prize for the first rider to the summit. Sahm, Kleinhans and Reid relished the almost 10km long, technical descent, putting time into the less-skilled descenders, Woolcock and Lill. They managed to stay clear until the finish, with Sahm charging ahead to secure the overall stage win. Riders tackle an early climb during Stage 2 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek on Saturday.// Photo credit: www.oakpics.com Lourens Luus and Adriaan Louw (Contego) finished third in the men’s team category, just over three minutes adrift of runners up, Woolcock and Lill. In the women’s race, the two top teams, Ascendis Health’s De Groot and Stenerhag and RECM’s Ariane Kleinhans and Cherise Stander, traded blows throughout the first half of the race. They reached the big climb at 50km together but De Groot and Stenerhag proved too strong for Kleinhans and Stander on the steep slope that gained over 1000 metres of altitude in just 20km. “It was tougher than I expected,” said De Groot. “We didn’t have a huge lead but we knew that if we kept the pressure high on the big climb we might be able to pull clear of them. It worked out well. We were a bit cautious on the long, technical descent, but we’d rather risk them catching us than crashing or having a mechanical,” explained De Groot. But the Ascendis Health pair held onto their lead, crossing the finish line just over a minute ahead of RECM. Third place went to Yolande de Villiers and Bianca Haw (Sasol Racing). In the Mixed division, Candice Neethling and Craig Boyes (Asrin Cycling) secured the win by just over five minutes from Yolandi du Toit and Michael Posthumus (Garmin), with Sasol Racing’s Johan Labuschagne and Leandri du Toit rounding out the podium places. The leading women's team's, RECM and Ascendis Health, rode another closely matched stage during Stage 2 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek on Saturday. // Photo credit: www.oakpics.com Sunday’s final stage is over a total distance of 87km. The first 26km will be a neutral zone, which means the actual stage distance is only 61km. Expect fast, intense racing on a route that’s got a high percentage of singletrack. For live race updates, follow @TankwaTrek on twitter. The stage proper will start at 08h15 on Sunday. DUTOIT TANKWA TREK 2015 Stage 2 – leading results: Team Men 1 James Reid (RSA) / Erik Kleinhans (RSA) Team RECM 3:53:33 2 Darren Lill (RSA) / Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Red-E Blend 3:55:04 3 Lourens Luus (RSA) / Adriaan Louw (RSA) Contego 3:58:17 4 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) / Johann Rabie (RSA) EAI Cycling 4:03:31 5 Nico Pfitzenmaier (GER) / Robert Sim (RSA) Dorma Robert Daniel 4:18:21 Solo Men 1 Stefan Sahm (GER) Team Bulls 3:51:14 2 Tyronne White (RSA) 4:00:41 3 Timo Cooper (RSA) 4:08:18 4 Ben Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 4:12:42 5 Derrin Smith (RSA) 4:12:42 Team Women 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) / Jennier Stennerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 4:30:12 2 Cherise Stander (RSA) / Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) Team RECM 4:31:31 3 Yolande de Villiers (RSA) / Bianca Haw (RSA) Sasol Racing 4:52:35 4 Ann Harrison (RSA) / Marleen Lourens (RSA) Dawn Wing Momsen 5:20:29 5 Nina Hind (RSA) / Kathy Crabbe (RSA) Fruit Sizers 6:32:11 Solo Women 1 Catherine Williamson 4:37:50 2 Christine Jansen van Rensburg (RSA) 4:51:58 3 Cherie Vaile (RSA) 4:58:55 4 Jane Seggie (RSA) 5:15:51 5 Monica Glover (RSA) 5:34:59 Team Mixed 1 Candice Neethling (RSA) / Craig Boyes (RSA) Asrin Cycling 4:36:10 2 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) / Michael Posthumus (RSA) Garmin 4:41:15 3 Leana de Jager (RSA) /Johan Labuschagne (RSA) Sasol Racing 4:48:07 4 Carmen Buchacher (RSA) / Allan Cox (RSA) VSL Mixed 5:04:50 5 Joanne Bentley (RSA) / Craig McKune (RSA) Stynky Lynxes 5:42:25 General Classification after Stage 2 Team Men 1 James Reid (RSA) / Erik Kleinhans (RSA) Team RECM 7:13:55 2 Darren Lill (RSA) / Waylon Woolcock (RSA) Red-E Blend 7:19:31 3 Lourens Luus (RSA) / Adriaan Louw (RSA) Contego 7:27:12 4 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) / Johann Rabie (RSA) EAI Cycling 7:35:56 5 Hanco Kachelhoffer (RSA) / Chris Wolhuter (RSA) Altech Autopage 7:56:09 Solo Men 1 Stefan Sahm (GER) Team Bulls 7:11:40 2 Tyronne White (RSA) 7:35:41 3 Timo Cooper (RSA) 7:39:53 4 Ben Melt Swanepoel (RSA) 7:44:28 5 Derrin Smith (RSA) 7:57:57 Team Women 1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) / Jennier Stennerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 8:22:30 2 Cherise Stander (RSA) / Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) Team RECM 8:26:40 3 Yolande de Villiers (RSA) / Bianca Haw (RSA) Sasol Racing 8:54:37 4 Ann Harrison (RSA) / Marleen Lourens (RSA) Dawn Wing Momsen 9:56:07 5 Nina Hind (RSA) / Kathy Crabbe (RSA) Fruit Sizers 12:06:59 Solo Women 1 Catherine Williamson (Asrin Cycling) 8:41:26 2 Christine Jansen van Rensburg (RSA) 9:10:39 3 Cherie Vale (RSA) 9:11:50 4 Jane Seggie (RSA) 9:46:33 4 Monica Glover (RSA) 10:19:02 Team Mixed 1 Candice Neethling (RSA) / Craig Boyes (RSA) Asrin Cycling 8:34:03 2 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) / Michael Posthumus (RSA) Garmin 8:45:44 3 Leana de Jager (RSA) /Johan Labuschagne (RSA) Sasol Racing 9:08:34 4 Carmen Buchacher (RSA) / Allan Cox (RSA) VSL Mixed 9:20:29 5 Joanne Bentley (RSA) / Craig McKune (RSA) Stynky Lynxes 10:26:32
  24. It may have been Valentine’s Day, but there was no love lost among the podium contenders on Stage 2 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek mountain bike stage race in South Africa’s Western Cape province on Saturday. Click here to view the article
  25. Having spent five days in the saddle covering an all-new 400-kilometre route and tackling 10,000 metres of climbing, South African Team RECM rider, James Reid, has won the 2015 Trans Hajar Mountain Bike Race by a massive 12 minutes 58 seconds. Click here to view the article
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