Mountain bike stage races are excellent for arm chair athletes. You can go back to the real world at work and home, then tune back in and realise these warriors are still clashing swords on a daily basis. And on stage 3 of the Cape Pioneer Trek, the prologue winners were back on top. Erik Kleinhans and Matt Beers bounced back in spectacular fashion on Wednesday, shaking up the overall title race in the process.
Beers and Kleinhans (Full Suss/Topeak Ergon/Red-E) were the primary aggressors from the start of the relatively short 57km stagea, which started and finished at Van Kervel School, George. They crossed the finish line in a time of 02 hours 10 minutes 50 seconds, just one second ahead of Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell (Team NAD Pro), the overall leaders.
There was another sprint for third place between Team Spur’s James Reid and Julian Jessop and CBC Elite’s Konny Looser and Daniel Gathof, with Reid and Jessop just grabbing the final podium spot.
Tuesday’s stage winners, Peeter Pruus and Peeter Tarvis (KOMO/RMW) had a nightmare of a stage with first a crash and then ongoing tyre trouble that saw them finish 13th, 26:28 down. This dropped them from second on the General Classification overnight, just 13 seconds off Yellow, to seventh, over 26 minutes back.
The setback to the Estonian pair, winners of Stage 2, sees Combrinck and Bell now hold a comfortable lead of 12:41 over new second-place holders, Looser and Gathof, who are 2:02 up on Erik Groen and Jeroen Boelen (Stappenbelt Specialized) with three days of racing remaining.
“I was already feeling better yesterday after being so ill on Monday’s stage. Must have been a stomach bug. But Matt and I decided that we would attack and make the pace hard from the very start today,” explained Kleinhans.
“Matt grew up on a farm near here and I come from George, so this was our only real shot at some home-town glory. We were both super motivated and really didn’t have anything to lose. A few teams hung on to us, but in the end, only Gawie and Nico were able to stick with us on what really was a great day.
“There was quite a lot of singletrack, which we loved and the route was really scenic. The fact that it was relatively short also made for more intense racing, which increases the pressure too,” added Kleinhans, confirming that he and Beers would be more conservative on Thursday’s longer stage.
Cape Pioneer women
Cherie Redecker and Mariske Strauss (OMX Pro) won another stage to grow their lead in the women’s category. But an exciting battle for second place ensued between Catherine Williamson and Leana de Jager (Klein Karoo Ladies) and Hannele Steyn and Katja Steenkamp (CWC Breakaway).
Williamson and De Jager eventually claimed the runner-up spot on the stage and moved into second place overall, on a day of reprieve after having struggled with tyre trouble on Stage 2. Steyn and Steenkamp, are just 20 seconds back in third in the overall, partly as a result of the withdrawal of Team Garmin’s Aurelie Halbwachs and Yolandi du Toit. Halbwachs struggled with illness on Stage 2 and was unable to continue.
In the Mixed category, Yolande de Villiers and Neil Ungerer (Ultimate Cycling) secured another stage win, extending their overall lead to just over 12 minutes on main rivals, Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo Mixed).
In the Veteran men’s division the two top teams were virtually inseparable on Wednesday. They finished with a sprint that saw Iniel Hattingh and Vickus Boschoff (Klein Karoo Ko Op) claim first place ahead of Fanie Venter and Igna de Villiers (LGE Midas Businessprint). However Venter and De Villiers maintain their eight minute lead in the overall race.
Linus van Onselen and Izak Visagie (Anderson Masters) continued their dominance in the Master’s race on Wednesday, winning their fourth successive stage and increasing their lead to 1:27:13 over the Pitstop pair of Niccolo Violati and Roberto Gallo.
The shorter stage saw smaller time gaps in the Solo men’s race, but Czech rider Jiri Krivanek maintained his superiority by winning the stage and adding more time to his overall lead over Franco Pelser, while in the Solo women’s race Nicky Giliomee extended her overall lead with another commanding stage win.
Thursday’s Stage 4 over 94km with 1650 metres of ascent sees the race move into the Karoo, a semi-desert region with unforgiving terrain and extreme heat. The riders will head from George to Oudtshoorn via the iconic Montagu Pass and Chandelier Game Reserve.
All photos by Zoon Cronje
Cape Pioneer Trek 2016
General Classification – After Stage 3
1. Nico Bell (RSA) / Gawie Combrink (RSA) – NAD Pro MTB 10:10:12
2. Konny Looser (SUI) / Daniel Gathof (GER) – CBC Elite Pro 10:22:37
3. Erik Groen (Netherlands) / Jeroen Boelen (Netherlands) – Team Stappebelt Specialized 10:24:56
4. James Reid (RSA) / Julian Jessop (RSA) – Team Spur 10:26:33
5. Bram Rood (Netherlands) / Gerben Mos (Netherlands) – KMC Fruit to Go 10:28:48
1. Mariske Strauss (RSA) / Cherie Redecker (RSA) – OMX Pro Team 12:03:12
2. Leana de Jager (RSA) / Catherine Williamson (UK) – Klein Karoo International 13:24:30
3. Hannele Steyn (RSA) / Katja Steenkamp (RSA) – Team CWC BreakAway 13:24:50
4. Mari du Toit (RSA) / Janine Muller (RSA) – Oakley Group Girls 14:13:22
5. Susanna Lagerqvist (SWE) / Maria Runeteg (SWE) – Du och Jag 14:49:00
1. Neill Ungerer (RSA) / Yolande de Villiers (RSA) – Ultimate Cycling 11:42:47
2. Kobus Barnard (RSA) / Fienie Barnard (RSA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 11:54:56
3. Daniele Troesch (FRA) / Max Friedrich (GER) – toMotion Racing by black tusk 1 12:32:47
4. Jens Schoenhofen (GER) / Gwenda Ruesing (GER) – toMotion Racing by black tusk 2 13:01:09
5. Luc Bellings (BEL) / Pokobova Vladislava (BEL) – gastro bikes 13:08:31
1. Fanie Venter (RSA) / Igna de Villiers (RSA) – LGE Midas BusinessPrint 11:33:25
2. Iniel Hattingh (RSA) / Vickus Boshoff (RSA) – Klein Karoo Ko Op 11:41:36
3. Hans Planckaert (BEL) / Wim Tollenaere (BEL) – De Fietser Rotwild Zaes Team 11:50:41
4. Brett Penney (RSA) / Eugene Long (RSA) – brett/long 12:28:02
5. Charl Bleach (RSA) / Shaun Sale (RSA) – Sale’s Hire 12:31:10
1. Linus van Onselen (RSA) / Izak Visagie (RSA) – Anderson Masters 11:56:50
2. Niccolò Violati (ITA) / Roberto Gallo (ITA) – Pitstop 13:24:03
3. Mark de Beule (NED) / Robbert De Moor (NED) – Cyclingteam Delta 13:31:46
4. Mike Charlewood (RSA) / Doug Girling (RSA) – Team Grassroof 14:12:52
5. Enzo Antoniazzi (RSA) / Stewart Goodman (RSA) – SOAR 2 14:30:39
1. Jiri Krivanek (CZE) 10:26:32
2. Franco Pelser (RSA) 10:49:59
3. Brandon Stewart (RSA) 11:21:27
4. Andrew Cairns (RSA) 11:35:56
5. Bart de Boeck (BEL) 11:37:23
1. Nicky Giliomee (RSA) 12:52:27
2. Marianne Bergli (NOR) 13:38:48
3. Sabine Stampf (GER) 13:43:04
4. Collette Bastard (RSA) 13:48:00
5. Teresa Coetzee (RSA) 16:57:33