Less than one month after their dominant Master’s category win at the 2010 ABSA Cape Epic mountain bike stage race, Andrew McLean and Shan Wilson (Cycle Lab Toyota) raced to overall victory at the inaugural Fairbairn Capital Old Mutual joBerg2c stage race, which ended in Scottburgh at the weekend.
McLean (45) and Wilson (42) were virtually in a class of their own as they claimed victory in seven of the nine stages in the gruelling 923km event, which started in Heidelberg, just south of Johannesburg on 23 April.
The nine-day race is expected to grow into one of the country’s most prestigious endurance sporting events and took almost 300 two-rider teams from the Highveld, through the eastern Free State, down the Escarpment and into the Tugela River Valley. From there the riders hugged the base of the Central and Southern Drakensberg to Underberg before heading to the coastal finish at Scottburgh.
McLean and Wilson’s accumulated overall time was 38 hours, 22 minutes and 42 seconds, more than 35 minutes quicker than the second-placed Fairbairn Capital Old Mutual team of David Kinjah and Davidson Kamau, Kenya’s top mountain bike racers (38:59:51), with Ryan Lambert and Mark Lambert of Team Lambros claiming overall third place in 40:40:05.
ÔÇ£It was an incredible event. I’m grateful Shan and I were able to win the first edition because I don’t think we will ever be in position to win it overall again,ÔÇØ smiled McLean. ÔÇ£This race is going to rival the Cape Epic within the next couple of years and is going to attract many of the sport’s top professionals.ÔÇØ
McLean says that while comparisons with the six-year-old Cape Epic are unavoidable, the two events differ on various levels.
ÔÇ£The joBerg2c is organised by farmers who are passionate about mountain biking and use the event to benefit the local communities through which the race route passes. The atmosphere is very different ÔÇô a lot more relaxed, but the point-to-point format is a key element, which seems to appeal to South Africans.ÔÇØ
McLean praised the landowners in the three provinces through which the race route passed.
ÔÇ£We rode on some of the most incredible mountain biking routes I’ve ever experienced! The variety of terrain is one of the attractions of the joBerg2c and a big thanks must go to all the farmers that allowed us access to their land. They will now know what the event is all about and I believe they will create some singletrack trails especially for the race next year.
Yolande de Villiers and Johan Labuschagne (Cycle Lab KTM) finished fourth overall and won the Mixed category title. It was a confidence-boosting result for De Villiers, who has been plagued by injury and illness over the past three years, preventing her from returning to the dominance she once enjoyed as the top female marathon racer in the country.
The women’s title went to Yolandi du Toit and Lise Olivier (Team Bizhub), who finished 32nd overall.