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Found 12 results

  1. The three-stage race in the Cape Winelands, presented by STANLIB, concluded with a 50km ride from Le Franschhoek Hotel to Nederburg Wine Estate. Arno du Toit (left) and Gert Heyns cross the finish line at Nederburg Wine Estate near Paarl on the 50km final stage of the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain-bike race, presented by STANLIB, to win the overall honours today. Picture: Robert Ward The DSV Pro Cycling team, who raced into the overall lead on day one, were comfortable winners after HB Kruger, who won last year with Waylon Woolcock, took a tumble and was unable to complete the stage. Kruger and Matt Beers, riding for ASG-NAD, won the second stage and were striving to make up a two-minute gap on overall leaders Heyns and Du Toit when the accident happened 25km in. Matt Beers (front) and HB Kruger lead the bunch in the early stages of the final day of the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain-bike race, presented by STANLIB, which finished at Nederburg Wine Estate near Paarl today. Picture: Robert Ward Coming into a single-track section, Kruger said he felt his front wheel get stuck in some soft sand and he went over the handlebars. “I damaged my right shoulder quite badly and we had to get help, so unfortunately were not able to finish the stage,” he said from hospital after having X-rays taken. The outcome was that it left Imbuko-Momsen’s Dylan Rebello and Marco Joubert, the third-placed team overnight, to chase the overall leaders. However, Heyns and Du Toit, from Stellenbosch and Milnerton in Cape Town respectively, proved that they were the strongest in the race by taking stage honours. They finished just under a minute-and-a-half ahead of Rebello and Joubert, who inherited second overall after Kruger’s misfortune. First Ascent’s Richard Simpson and Alexander Rohrer were a further six and a bit minutes back on the day to finish on the lowest step of the podium in the general classification. After losing yesterday’s stage in a sprint, Heyns said they were motivated to win today as the three top teams led from the start. “We were just going into a single-track section and I was in front when I heard something behind us, which turned out to be HB falling,” he said. “Soon afterwards we realised HB and Matt weren’t with us and we later saw Dylan and Marco chasing us, so we assumed what had happened.” Their lead was, however, never challenged as they completed a dominant weekend. “This was definitely a good win for us, especially as we will be riding sani2c next month,” said Heyns. “It was very special and our partnership worked well after doing the Cape Epic with each other a few years ago. “We come from the same racing background and are comfortable on the more technical sections, so in the end it worked out well.” Samantha Sanders of Nelspruit and Matthew Stamatis of Stellenbosch completed a clean sweep of the stages to win the mixed title. Matthew Stamatis (front) and Samantha Sanders won the mixed category in the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain-bike race, presented by STANLIB, which finished at Nederburg Wine Estate near Paarl today. Picture: Robert Ward The Home Ice Cream-dormakaba duo were followed by David George and Katie Lennard of The Gear Change and Carmen Buchacher and Paris Basson of dormakaba in the overall standings. Sanders, who was a late entry when Stamatis was looking for a partner, said she was delighted with the victory in her first Liberty Winelands Encounter appearance. “We went into the race with the intention of doing well,” she said, confirming that she was familiar with many of the trails in the area. “We got off to a good lead on the first day and were able to ride consistently from then on. “I think that was our strength because we were able to ride at a safe pace on some fairly technical and rocky sections, while maintaining an even tempo throughout.” Marleen Lourens (left) and Louise Ferreira won the women’s category in the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain-bike race, presented by STANLIB, which finished at Nederburg Wine Estate near Paarl today. Picture: Robert Ward The women’s category went to Louise Ferreira and Marleen Lourens, who also led from the first stage. They completed the final leg in 2:22:39 for an overall time of 6:58:59. Ilse Viljoen and Jana Kruger took second place overall and Alta Kriegler and Sunette Beyers (Pool Nurse) were third. Results Stage three, 50km Men 1 Gert Heyns & Arno du Toit (DSV Pro Cycling) 1:55:01 2 Marco Joubert & Dylan Rebello (Imbuko-Momsen) 1:56:27 3 Richard Simpson & Alexander Rohrer (First Ascent) 2:02:50 4 James Lennard & Rickus Jooste (Gear Change 2) 2:09:58 5 Conway Oliver & Alan Cox (Pitstop Sport) 2:16:06 Women 1 Louise Ferreira & Marleen Lourens (Louise-Marleen) 2:22:39 2 Ilse Viljoen & Jana Kruger (Companero) 2:41:41 3 Alta Kriegler & Sunette Beyers (Pool Nurse) 2:50:03 4 Anne Foale & Mimi Viviers (Fun) 3:29:03 5 Mariska Hennig & Kerryn Allan (Skaapie and Boks) 3:53:07 Mixed 1 Matthew Stamatis & Samantha Sanders (Home Ice Cream-dormakaba) 2:07:26 2 David George & Katie Lennard (The Gear Change) 2:09:45 3 Carmen Buchacher & Paris Basson (dormakaba) 2:12:40 4 Everett Haywood & Anna Haywood (Fu King Fast) 2:43:52 General classification Men 1 Gert Heyns & Arno du Toit (DSV Pro Cycling) 5:29:29 2 Marco Joubert & Dylan Rebello (Imbuko-Momsen) 5:37:26 3 Richard Simpson & Alexander Rohrer (First Ascent) 5:58:20 4 James Lennard & Rickus Jooste (Gear Change 2) 6:15:46 5 Conway Oliver & Alan Cox (Pitstop Sport) 6:34:55 On the men’s podium at the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain-bike race, presented by STANLIB, which finished at Nederburg Wine Estate near Paarl today were (from left) STANLIB head of marketing and wellness Travis Johnston, Dylan Rebello and Marco Joubert (second), Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit (first), and Richard Simpson and Alexander Rohrer (third). Picture: Robert Ward Women 1 Louise Ferreira & Marleen Lourens (Rockhopper Ladies) 6:58:59 2 Ilse Viljoen & Jana Kruger (Companero) 7:51:53 3 Alta Kriegler & Sunette Beyers (Pool Nurse) 8:33:49 4 Anne Foale & Mimi Viviers (Fun) 10:36:42 5 Michelle Cronje & Sonja Olivier (Salamon Girls) 11:11:36 On the women’s podium at the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain-bike race, presented by STANLIB, which finished at Nederburg Wine Estate near Paarl today were (from left) STANLIB head of marketing and wellness Travis Johnston, Jana Kruger and Ilse Viljoen (second), Marleen Lourens and Louise Ferreira (first), and Alta Kriegler and Sunette Beyers (third). Picture: Robert Ward Mixed 1 Matthew Stamatis & Samantha Sanders (Home Ice Cream-dormakaba) 6:10:16 2 David George & Katie Lennard (The Gear Change) 6:18:06 3 Carmen Buchacher & Paris Basson (dormakaba) 6:49:18 4 Everett Haywood & Anna Haywood (Fu King Fast) 7:54:21 On the mixed category podium at the Liberty Winelands Encounter mountain-bike race, presented by STANLIB, which finished at Nederburg Wine Estate near Paarl today were (from left) STANLIB head of marketing and wellness Travis Johnston, Carmen Buchacher and Paris Basson (third), Samantha Sanders and Matthew Stamatis (first), and Katie Lennard and David George (second). Picture: Robert Ward
  2. HB Kruger (front) and Waylon Woolcock, of BCX, lead the way en route to their third stage win and overall victory in the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, near Wellington in the Boland today. Photo: Ewald Sadie Using the same strategy as before, the BCX duo were again able to build up a lead during the first half of the 48km final stage in the Wellington area en route to winning in 1:49:34. On the day, they were followed by Versus Socks’ Jurgens Uys and Nicol Carstens (1:51:07) and TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light’s Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert (1:52:34). Woolcock and Kruger sealed the title with an overall racing time of 6:18:53, ahead of Hill and Joubert (6:28:01) and Uys and Carstens (6:30:57). Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag added the women’s title to the Cape Epic crown she won last month when she and her Cape Brewing Company teammate Katie Lennard completed a comfortable overall victory in 7:38:48. Katie Lennard (front) and Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag, of Cape Brewing Company, took the honours in the women’s race of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, which finished near Wellington in the Boland today. Photo: Ewald Sadie Reflecting on the race, Woolcock said he felt their success had been built on the opening stage when they created a three-minute lead which they gradually increased. “We came here with a goal of winning the race and we always knew it would be important to get a gap on the opening day,” he said. “Besides giving you a buffer, it also gives you a mental head start on the rest if you can show you are the strongest. “We went hard from the start on the first day on probably the toughest stage of the three, so that set up our advantage.” Kruger said they began the final leg with the aim of staying near the front and avoiding mechanicals or crashes. “We managed to get a gap fairly early on and then rode at a steady tempo and it was cool to win our third stage in a row,” he said. “As we both come from the region – I’m from Paarl and Waylon from Stellenbosch – it was very satisfying to win this title. It gives us a positive attitude looking ahead to our next races.” HB Kruger, of BCX, leads the bunch on the third stage of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, which finished near Wellington in the Boland today. Photo: Ewald Sadie Kruger said they had particularly enjoyed the overall atmosphere of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB. “Generally it was quite a relaxed vibe, some really good routes, and we could not have asked for better weather. It’s a great event and hats off to the organisers for their hard work.” Stenerhag was pleased with her effort after she and Lennard won the final stage ahead of Companero’s Jana Kruger and Ilse Viljoen. “I particularly enjoyed riding with Katie, who was always very good on the technical sections. Overall it was a good experience and the organisation was great.” She said she would be riding in the TrailSeeker Series in Tulbagh next weekend before returning to Europe. Corne Barnard (front) and Vera Adrian, of dormakaba RA, took the honours in the mixed category of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, which finished near Wellington in the Boland today. Photo: Ewald Sadie In the mixed category, dormakaba RA’s Corne Barnard and Vera Adrian won their third stage in a row in 2:03:10 to head the general classification on 7:07:28. Home Ice Cream’s Matthew Stamatis and Carmen Buchacher were second on the stage in 2:06:34 and overall in 7:16:12, followed by Bestmed-Ellsworth-ASG’s Pieter Seyffert and An-Li Kachelhoffer in 2:13:58 and 7:38:48.
  3. HB Kruger (front) and Waylon Woolcock, of BCX, built an overall lead of just more than six minutes after winning the second stage in the three-day Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, today. Photo: Ewald Sadie The BCX pair used their knowledge of the region – Woolcock is from Stellenbosch and Kruger from Paarl – to build a six-minute lead going into the final stage tomorrow. They completed the 57km stage from Franschhoek to Wellington in 2:17:21, finishing ahead of Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert (TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light), who clocked a time of 2:20:35. Jurgens Uys and Nicol Carstens (Versus Socks) were third for the second consecutive day, finishing in 2:23:00. Dylan Rebello, of Imbuko Wines, leads the bunch on the 57km second stage of the three-day Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, from Franschhoek to Wellington today Photo: Ewald Sadie The stage’s outcome gave Woolcock and Kruger an overall time of 4:29:00, just more than six minutes clear of Hill and Joubert (4:35:27). Uys and Carstens (4:39:50) are third. Woolcock said it was not a case of making any significant moves on the day, but maintaining the pressure on their rivals until the climb up Cascade Manor 40km into the race. “The first 15 to 20km were fairly fast and flat, but knowing the trails pretty well, it was a matter of just keeping up the pace,” he said. “The guys were on and off us the whole time and we had a gap of about one minute when we hit the big climb of the day.” He added that they wanted to build up a decent gap going up Cascade Manor to the Hawekwa Plantation. “We managed to achieve that and still had something in reserve because there have been some fires in the region, which meant we had to be fairly careful on the single-track down to the finish,” said Woolcock. After riding a large part of the first stage of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, at tempo, he said they had been able to ease back even more today. “You could see that fatigue had set in with some of the riders and I always believe in keeping something in reserve rather than trying too hard and making mistakes.” Kruger said they were still in good shape, having maintained their momentum without “pushing ourselves into the red”. Even with a fairly comfortable lead, he said they would not take anything for granted going into the final stage. “The race is never over and we will definitely have to ride smartly tomorrow,” he said. “We don’t want to run the risk of any mechanicals and crashes, or get caught at the back on some of the single-track. “So we will definitely be on our toes and make sure we are up near the front.” Jennie Stenerhag and Katie Lennard, of Cape Brewing Company, lead the bunch on the second stage of the three-day Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, from Franschhoek to Wellington today Photo: Ewald Sadie Swedish Cape Epic champion Jennie Stenerhag and South African partner Katie Lennard continued to call the shots in the women’s race, crossing the line first in 2:47:10. This puts them in the general classification lead on 5:22:10, well ahead of Jana Kruger and Ilse Viljoen (Companero), who finished in 3:15:14 for an overall time of 6:23:05. In the mixed category Corne Barnard and Vera Adrian (dormakaba RA) took the day’s honours in 2:37:03. They were followed home by Matthew Stamatis and Carmen Buchacher (Home Ice Cream) in 2:37:47 and Pieter Seyffert and An-Li Kachelhoffer (Bestmed-Ellsworth-ASG) in 2:44:26. Barnard and Adrian lead the general classification on 5:04:18, giving them a decent lead over Stamatis and Buchacher (5:09:38) and Seyffert and Kachelhoffer (5:24:50). Mixed category leaders Corne Barnard and Vera Adrian, of dormakaba RA, tackle a single-track section on the 57km second stage of the three-day Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, from Franschhoek to Wellington today Photo: Ewald Sadie
  4. Although the BCX pair were pushed at times, they eventually got away about midway through the stage to take the top spot on the podium after finishing the 54km course to Franschhoek in 2:11:39. Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger (front), riding for BCX, set the pace on the opening day of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek today. Photo: Ewald Sadie Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert (TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light) followed them home in 2:14:52, with Jurgens Uys and Nicol Carstens (Versus Socks) third in 2:16:50. Although Woolcock, from Stellenbosch, and Kruger, from nearby Paarl, are riding the race for the first time, they said they were familiar with the area. Not even a slight spill by Woolcock could derail their winning effort as they exerted the pressure from the outset and never relinquished their lead. “We spoke about it before the start and knew we had to make an effort on the first climb,” said Woolcock. “I also know that section very well so our plan was always to try to get away there.” He said the dry conditions made the route tricky at certain sections and they had to keep their concentration throughout the stage. “When I did lose a bit of concentration I had a slight front wheel drift and ‘bought a small plot’, but no major damage was done,” said Woolcock. “The handlebars were slightly skew, but I managed to straighten them a bit on the fly and then, when we got to a tar section, I took time to loosen a bolt and straighten them properly.” After the early climb, Woolcock said Uys and Carstens came back at them, something the third-placed pair repeated after the leaders made a surge on a second ascent. “They came back at us on the single-track but I know how things turn out because although we were both putting in a big effort, they were riding five per cent harder just to get back to us. “We were riding tempo and actually saving energy. “Once we exited Boschendal on the mountain side towards the Rupert’s L’Ormirans Wine Farm, they held on for a few kilometres before we broke away again and kept the gap until the end.” Woolcock said Kruger also had a “little play in the dust” but from then on they rode at an even pace and tried to avoid any serious crashes or mechanicals. “We took the single-track steadily because it is so dry that even though you know the trails it’s very unpredictable. You can come around a corner and the trail can crumble underneath you.” Despite their three-minute lead, Woolcock said they would not be thinking too far ahead, particularly given the quality of the opposition. “We can’t relax at any stage and our opponents are the types of riders who will be on our heels to make the best of any slip-up. You can never count anything out in mountain biking.” Cape Epic champion Jennie Stenerhag, of Sweden, (front) and South African partner Katie Lennard won the women’s opening stage in the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek today. Photo: Ewald Sadie In the women’s race, Swedish Cape Epic champion Jennie Stenerhag and her South African partner Katie Lennard (Cape Brewing Company) took a firm grip on proceedings by finishing the stage in 2:35:00. This gives them a decisive lead over Jana Kruger and Ilse Viljoen (Companero), who filled second spot in 3:07:51. Riding the race for the first time, Stenerhag said they broke away early on and built up a sizeable lead. “It was a very good day and we rode steadily after getting away from the start,” she said. “The stage was a really good challenge, especially the early climb up to Skyfall when you can definitely feel it in your legs. “After that it was nice and we felt good throughout as we raced our own race.” The mixed category is led by Corne Barnard and Vera Adrian (dormakaba RA), who finished the stage in 2:27:15, followed by Matthew Stamatis and Carmen Buchacher (Home Ice Cream) in 2:31:51. TransCape men’s champion Pieter Seyffert and An-Li Kachelhoffer (Bestmed-Ellsworth-ASG) were third in 2:40:24. Tomorrow’s second stage will cover a distance of 54km from Franschhoek to Wellington.
  5. The 28-year-old Capetonian, who will partner Dylan Rebello in the three-day race that starts in Stellenbosch tomorrow, was not shy to talk about his ambitions. Chris Wolhuter, who will be riding for Imbuko Wines with Dylan Rebello, will be aiming for his third straight title at the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, this weekend. Photo: Ewald Sadie. “Three in a row would definitely be a goal for us, but I think the level of competition is increasing with each event,” said the Imbuko Wines rider, who won alongside Craig Boyes last year. He said accomplished mountain bike exponents like Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger and Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert would likely be in the mix and was “an indication of the challenge we will be facing”. With prize-money of R100 000 on offer, Wolhuter, who lives in Wynberg, said there had been a significant increase in the strength of the teams. “Last year there were more teams than the first year and this year there is a further increase, so it just shows how the event is growing. “The prize-money is an attraction and it raises the general level of the race in more than just one aspect.” Wolhuter and the Stellenbosch-based Rebello, his teammate for almost a year, aimed to finish among the top three African teams in the recent Cape Epic until several mechanicals put paid to their chances. Although that race did not go quite according to plan, he said it was a good experience and they had recovered nicely from the effort. “We are feeling quite good after the Epic and often when you have had good rest you can bounce quite well off it. But this will obviously be our first real test since then.” Feeling that the format of the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, suited his riding style, Wolhuter said he was looking forward to the race. “The multi-stage events require a different skill set and I do tend to get a bit stronger as the races go on. The longer it is, the better it suits me.” He added that the race – which plays out in the Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington areas – was a major attraction for riders in the Western Cape given its location and superior experience offered by the organisers. “For us in Cape Town it is super easy to travel to because you don’t have to fly anywhere or worry about equipment logistics. “In addition, they have done a lot of work on the course and you could see a significant improvement in the trails last year. Off the bike, they create a five-star experience so it’s always one to remember.” Wolhuter said he was comfortable with his form this season, having won the Simonsberg Contour MTB stage race in February ahead of Czech rider Dominik Buksa. “It was nice to see we can compete with overseas riders,” he said. “I also came second in the PE Plett solo category, so I’m happy with the way things have gone.”
  6. Presented in partnership with STANLIB, race organisers have put together an attractive purse of R100 000 for the three-stage mountain bike race, which starts in Stellenbosch on April 21 before moving to boutique race villages at Franschhoek and Wellington Paying tribute to the input from the title sponsors, ASG Events chief executive Wynand de Villiers said they felt it was a substantial package which had already attracted some top riders. “In terms of prize-money, very few events boast this kind of purse so we are thankful to Liberty for making this possible for the competitors,” he said. “We have had a host of top riders who have entered as a result.” Among the leading contenders who had entered, he said, was Sweden's Jennie Stenerhag who, with partner Esther Süss, currently leads the Cape Epic women’s event. In terms of the split, De Villiers said the purse would be shared equally among the men’s, women’s and mixed categories. “We live in an equal society, so we believe that is the way to go.” The prize-money in each category will be R18 000 for the winners, R10 000 for the runners-up and R5 500 for the third-placed teams. Participants in the Liberty Winelands Encounter, in partnership with STANLIB, will be racing for an attractive overall purse of R100 000. Last year’s winners were Chris Wolhuter (left) and Craig Boyes. Photo: Full Stop Communications While De Villiers said there was naturally a focus on attracting top riders, they also acknowledged the importance of providing a race which everyone could enter and enjoy. “The Winelands Encounter is definitely a race for everyone,” he said. “You obviously need to be a relatively skilled and experienced rider to complete the event comfortably, but it’s by no means just shaped around the pros.” He described the race as the fastest growing three-day mountain bike race in the country and felt the overall package was full value. “I have taken part in a number of three-stage offerings and the Encounter offers the best on all fronts,” said De Villiers. “The package includes world class venues, the beautiful Winelands scenery and routes that don’t have their equal.” He added that entries were filling up fast, with the cap set at 250 teams. “To date we have 220 entries and there is a strong spread across all the categories.”
  7. A high-quality field will again be racing for a lucrative prize purse when the Liberty Winelands Encounter takes place in the Western Cape next month. Click here to view the article
  8. Defending champion Chris Wolhuter and protégé Craig Boyes crushed their rivals on the second day of the Liberty Winelands MTB Encounter to build up a comfortable lead going into Sunday’s grand finale. Click here to view the article
  9. As they had done on the opening day, the Imbuko-Freewheel Cycology professional team set the pace for most of the way to win the 57km stage between Franschhoek and Kleine Valleij outside Wellington in 2:20:00. They got the better of Altech-Autopage’s Colin Noel and Hanco Kachelhoffer, who finished a distant second in 2:28:42. Craig Boyes (left) and Chris Wolhuter of Imbuko-Freewheel Cycology extended their overall lead on the second stage of the 2016 Liberty Winelands MTB Encounter on Saturday. Photo: Ewald Sadie After CP van Wyk’s horrific crash the previous day while fighting for stage honours, he and his Momsen teammate Dylan Rebello put in a superb ride to place third in 2:29:47. Wolhuter, from Cape Town, and Boyes, who lives in Stellenbosch, head the general classification with a combined time of 4:46:34. They are followed by Noel and Kachelhoffer (5:05:22) with Rebello and Van Wyk (5:11:25) in third. Boyes said they had again got off to a flying start as they pushed hard up front alongside Noel and Kachelhoffer with Rebello and Van Wyk in tow. “Unfortunately Hanco punctured and he and Colin lost touch,” said the 25-year-old. “About 5km after exiting the Drakenstein prison grounds, we took a gamble and went really hard as we headed towards the first waterpoint. “Fortunately we know the route and Chris has been unbelievably strong so we were able to just roll on to the finish after that.” Although they would not be taking anything for granted, Boyes said they were looking forward to the final day. “We have managed to build up a comfortable buffer and are really aiming to enjoy the final day and the sights.” Boyes said his maiden Liberty Winelands MTB Encounter was a special experience. “Everyone has made us feel so welcome. The friendly reception and the work the organisers have put in have been huge.” After solid early-season performances at the GR300 and Cape Epic, where they were third overall and fourth African team respectively, Boyes said they were keen to graduate to the top step of the podium. Stephan Senekal (left) and Ariane Kleinhans of Team Spur won the second stage of the 2016 Liberty Winelands MTB Encounter on Saturday. Photo: Ewald Sadie Team Spur’s Stephan Senekal and Ariane Kleinhans completed back to back victories in the mixed section when they placed fifth on the stage in 2:45:14. Their aggregate time of 5:35:49 puts them in a comfortable lead in the overall standings ahead of Everett and Anna Haywood and Ricky and Kerry Tomaselli. The final stage, which starts and finishes at Kleine Valleij, will be over a distance of 48km with 1 100m of climbing.
  10. A three-day encounter over some of the best mountain biking terrain beckons for cyclists when the Liberty Winelands Encounter takes place from April 15 to 17. Click here to view the article
  11. The inaugural event was limited to 100 two-man teams to ensure a boutique feel, according to ASG race organiser Wynand de Villiers. Riders take in the scenery during last year’s Winelands Encounter. Photo: Ewald Sadie “This year we have allocated 250 slots to cater for the race’s growth while retaining the experience that modern lifestyle athletes demand.” Dubbed as “South Africa’s most beautiful stage race”, the Winelands Encounter provides participants with panoramic views of mountains, orchards and vineyards on the bike, he said. “Off the bike, we are talking luxury accommodation, first-class service and a culinary experience second to none.” This year’s route passes through a number of iconic Boland towns such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington. “All of these towns are renowned for some of the best cycling routes in the country,” said De Villiers. “In addition, our route builders add their special flair to some uncharted trails.” Last year’s winner Chris Wolhuter, who rode alongside Jared Haley, said the race had been the right combination of a challenging ride and a five-star experience. “I think the first edition went off really well,” said Wolhuter, who rides in the colours of the new Imbuko Wines-Freewheel Cycology pro team. “There were some fantastic trails and it’s got the potential to grow very nicely.” While the scenery is appealing to many, there is also an edge to the event, Haley pointed out last year. “We heard it was more of an experience than a race, but the moment the guys put on the number boards, it quickly became one,” he said. Spouses are not forgotten as the organisers strive to ensure the event transforms into a family experience. “They will be able to book meals along the route with their riding partners to create a unique and family-orientated experience,” said De Villiers. Entries for the 175km three-day event are accepted until midnight today. Go to www.capewinelands.capetown for more information or to enter.
  12. The inaugural series, which is presented by ASG and MTB Adventures, will kick off with the existing three-day Winelands Encounter in the Western Cape from April 15, followed by the newly added Waterberg Encounter in the Limpopo Province from June 10. South Africa’s first multi-stage mountain biking series, the Liberty Encounter Series, was launched at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate near Paarl on Saturday. The Winelands Encounter (pictured here) will form the first event of the new series. Photo: Ewald Sadie Speaking at the launch, series coordinator Wynand de Villiers said organisers were thrilled to introduce the concept to the national racing scene. “Multi-stage races have proliferated over the past five years, with almost 50 offerings countrywide today. Our objective with this series is to create a trusted franchise.” De Villiers said this would mean that riders could expect a certain level of offering when they entered an Encounter Series event. “You can bank on the same product and the same service levels wherever you are and hence don’t run the risk of being disappointed. This is very important for stage races in particular, which are expensive exercises.” He said Encounter events would afford mountain bikers with a passion for stage racing the experience of a lifetime with VIP treatment and five-star hospitality. “Following the success of the Winelands Encounter, we are producing something very special in the Waterberg as well, emulating the first event as far as route diversity and off-the-bike spoils are concerned.” Rebecca Eliot, managing director of Liberty Value Added Services, said Liberty was proud to be involved as the presenting sponsor of the Encounter Series. “Our involvement provides us with a platform for financial advisers to build relationships with their customers as well as for us to promote our ProTouch Cycling Club, which entitles members to access free and discounted race entries, discounts on products and services, and special invites to rides, tours and packages, and Italian-made cycling kit.” De Villiers said the series had originally started out as two separate ideas for races, with the title sponsor eventually providing the missing puzzle piece. “Moving to Paarl two years ago, I quickly started thinking about the idea of a race route between Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. “The Cape Winelands is the most beautiful part of the country and I believed that riders would have the time of their lives if we could link up something special in a three-day format between these towns.” Having presented the Sondela MTB Classic in the Waterberg for the past four years, De Villiers said he had also been trying to get a multi-stage offering up and running for some time. “In 2016 it will finally become a reality.” The race, which takes place near Bela-Bela, takes riders between the upmarket bush lodges of Sondela and Zebula. He said the dearth of inland stage races in June meant that the Waterberg event would provide the ideal reason for Gauteng and Limpopo-based riders to keep their wheels turning during winter. “Those riders who take part in both events will be rewarded for their loyalty with discounted entries and prizes for completing the series.” He said plans were in place to add further events in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State over the next couple of seasons. “For now we’re happy to activate the first two and concentrate on doing our best to present world-class events and then investigate routes in other provinces and work with Liberty to achieve their goals for the series.” Riders who have already signed up for the Winelands event will have a four-day preferential entry window for the Waterberg race from December 7. They will also receive a 10 per cent discount on their entry fee. ProTouch Cycling members are entitled to free entries on a first-come, first-served basis. The field for the inaugural Limpopo race will be limited to 100 teams. Visit www.encountermtbseries.co.za for more information. Alternatively, phone 076 621 1807 or email eventsupport@asgworld.co.za. (Audio attach) Series coordinator Wynand De Villiers giving an overview on the Encounter Series launch: Liberty Encounter Series.mp3
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