After a diabolical day in the rain and mud yesterday, the organisers extended a helping hand to the racers this morning. A 9.15am start and a stage shortened to 51km from 71km (due to trails still being exceptionally waterlogged) was welcomed by all.
Leaving George under police escort kept the race in neutral before we hit the Montague Pass. Almost immediately Scott Factory attacked and set off to try and reclaim the yellow jerseys.
Yesterday’s stage, on paper was one of the toughest; compounded by the adverse weather conditions it made it even harder. On the racing front, the race was turned on its head. The Bulls won the stage and in doing so took 7 minutes out of the Scott Factory Team who had suffered a puncture on the extremely rocky Duiwelskop descent. The Asrin men’s team took second on the stage and moved within firing distance of the podium. The ever consistent EAI pairing however moved into 3rd on the GC after the Spanish team ESMTB.com crashed out of the race!
The ladies race also saw much drama, with the De Groot and Stenerhag pairing suffering significant mechanical problems and losing lots of time, the Asrin ladies took advantage and won the stage and also the overall leader’s pink jerseys.
Ultimately Scott Factory was not able to shift the Bulls today, yet still won the stage in a sprint finish. With a 3.30min lead, it would appear as if the Bulls have the race sown up, with a quicker flatter stage tomorrow. This is however mountain biking and really anything can happen. The Belgian WMTB.Be-Feenstra pairing took 3rd on the stage and is 4th on the GC, also just 3 minutes off the EAI pairing.
The race will go down to the wire tomorrow in Oudtshoorn with Scott and the Bulls duelling it out for the win and WMTB.Be-Feenstra and Asrin challenging EAI for the final podium placing.
Hanco and I had a solid day, after ascending the Montagu Pass just off the 3rd group on the road; we rode back to them and then came to the line in a 3 way sprint with RECM and Fairview Elite to take 8th on the day. This keeps us in 10th on the GC.