Matt Beers and Wessel Botha for Team NAD won the FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz on Sunday, after another drama-filled day of racing on a course that had to be rerouted overnight to avoid protests near Hermanus.
The third and final stage ended in a sprint involving five teams with U23 cross-country world champion SA’s Alan Hatherly and his Danish teammate Simon Andreassen for Spur Specialized getting across the line first. Belgians Frans Claes and renowned road rider Jasper Stuyven from Waypoint Leuven were second with Beers and Botha third.
Late Saturday night the FNB Wines2Whales organisers were instructed by emergency services in Hermanus to stay away from the town, where the race was scheduled to end because of protest action. A road near the town had been blocked by burning tyres and rocks.
A decision was taken to hold the stage in the Elgin-Grabouw area on an out-and-back course starting and finishing at Oak Valley wine estate. The race’s route team worked through the night to plan a new course and then mark it. The stage they came up with was 56km long and was mostly held on trails in the area that had not been used in the previous two stages.
‘It was a really cool course, they did really well to design it and mark it in that time,’ said Botha afterwards.
The 19-year-old from Pretoria and Beers began the final stage with a 2min 54sec cushion. They had a setback halfway through the ride when Beers got a puncture. Their support team of Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell for Team NAD 2 was with the front group, ‘so we swapped a wheel and then it was a mad dash to get back,’ said Botha.
They were lucky when the front riders missed a route marker and had to turn back.
‘We just all rode together from there. For the last five kilometres we just had to hang tight,’ said Beers. After celebrating on the line with a spray of champagne, Beers said his first FNB Wines2Whales win ‘is such a good feeling’.
Hatherly suffered a puncture early on in the ride and chased back after plugging it. At about 40km, he and Andreassen caught the front group and immediately attacked up a switchback climb.
‘Then we took a wrong turn and that’s where everybody came together again,’ he said. Hatherly and Andreassen were, however, able to celebrate their second stage win in two days – they had also won stage two in a sprint.
Andreassen, a former junior world champion, said the course had been quite dusty and, because of the late rerouting, they had little idea what lay ahead, ‘It was the same for everybody, so we’ve got no complaints.’
Second in the dash for the line were Claes and Stuyven, an accomplished road rider who finished fifth at the Paris Roubaix classic this year and who was taking part in his first mountain bike race.
Bell and Beers were third in the sprint, while fourth went to Calle Friberg and HB Kruger for HiQ Ellsworth and Bell and Combrinck finished fifth.
Other Category Results | Shiraz Stage 3:
Sub vets: Team NAD 2 (Nico Bell/Gawie Combrinck) 7:43.09,8
Vets: Dormakaba 3 (Nico Pfitzenmaier/Paris Basson) 8:22.37,8
Masters: Robert Daniel (Doug Brown/Robert Sim) 8:54.56,5
Mixed: Rockhopper Adventures (Corne Barnard/Mariske Strauss) 8:56.55,6
Exxaro: BMT Fairtree 1 (Baphelele Mvovo/Luyanda Thovigunya) 8:48.23,6
Results | Shiraz Stage 3:
1 Spur Specialized (Alan Hatherly/Simon Andreassen) 2:13.06,4
2 Waypoint Leuven (Frans Claes/Jasper Stuyven) 2:13.07,9
3 Team NAD (Matthew Beers/Wessel Botha) 2:13.11,4
4 HiQ Ellsworth (Calle Friberg/Hendrik Kruger) 2:13.12,9
5 Team NAD 2 (Nico Bell/Gawie Combrinck) 2:13.25,3
Shiraz General Classification after Stage 3:
1 Team NAD (Matthew Beers/Wessel Botha) 7:35.26,9
2 Spur Specialized (Alan Hatherly/Simon Andreassen) 7:38.16,3
3 Team NAD 2 (Nico Bell/Gawie Combrinck) 7:43.09,8
4 Waypoint Leuven (Frans Claes/Jasper Stuyven) 7:44.38,9
5 HiQ Ellsworth (Calle Friberg/Hendrik Kruger) 7:46.56,4
Photo: Beers and Botha for Team NAD take the FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz title, by Greg Beadle or Nick Muzikw/ FNB Wines2Whales