After dodging some traffic we finally arrived at the time-honoured Lanzerac Wine Farm this morning, for the first stage of the inaugural Liberty Cape Winelands Encounter. The event dreamt up by organisers Johann and Wynand has been kept small in its first year, with it being sold out at 150 teams.
The 3 day race starts in Stellenbosch with the first stage ending in Franschoek. The second stage takes the riders from Franschoek to Doolhof Wine Farm in Wellington, with the final stage being a lap of the famed Welvenpas trails in Wellington, again ending at Doolhof.
With a change in racing schedule there was a last minute opportunity for me to take part in this event alongside Jarryd Hayley from Rocky Mountain.
The emphasis of the event is not placed on the racing front, and we did try to be civil off the start line this morning. After railing some berms at the G-spot, getting some air and pretending to be Greg Minaar, we were off to the first serious climb of the day, and being civil was shortly forgotten. The Pretoria Box U23 team impressed and challenged up the steeper slopes until we were able to dislodge them near the top of the climb and open the gap on the Skyfall Trails into Bartinney, well worth the climb I might add!
A strong headwind became our next foe as Jarryd and I fought our way up the Franschoek wine valley edging closer to the finish line at the luxurious Le Franschoek Hotel. Ultimately we managed to win the stage with the Flandria team in second place. Unfortunately the Pretoria Box youngsters suffered mechanical troubles and finished a long way off the pointy end.