Instead of riding to defend the lead they’d claimed on Sunday’s opening prologue time trial, Germans Tim Bohme and Simon Stiebjahn of Team Bulls rode an aggressive Stage One from Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp on Monday to increase their overall lead at the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek international mountain bike stage race.
Bohme and Stiebjahn clocked a winning time of 3 hours 44 minutes 28 seconds for the 100-kilometre leg to secure their second successive stage win, showing their good form and podium-topping intentions.
Second place went to the South African SCOTT Factory Racing pair of 2012 Olympian Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes, who crossed the line eight seconds later. The result saw Team Bulls increase their lead over SCOTT Factory Racing to 27 seconds.
Third place on the stage was the ESMTB.com team of Ismael Ventura and Ramon Sagues. The Spaniards have also moved up to third on the General Classification.
In the women’s race, South Africa’s another 2012 Olympian Robyn de Groot and Sweden’s Jennie Stenerhag (Biogen Toyota Cape Brewing Co.) stormed to a dominant stage victory, extending their overall lead in the process.
With a moderate total ascent of 1794 metres, a fairly large lead group stayed intact until there were 30km remaining. Team Bulls and SCOTT Factory Racing then started to increase the pressure, splitting the pack effectively until they were the only two teams at the head of the race.
‘We worked well together with the SCOTT guys to split the race up. I was feeling really good, so on a climb with one kilometre to go I attacked at the bottom. I got a small gap and Simon was able to come across to me. We just kept the pace high from there and were happy to take the stage win. You must take the win when you can,’ smiled Bohme.
In the women’s race, De Groot and Stenerhag took the lead early on, but were caught by a group 50km into the stage. That group contained rivals, Asrin Cycling’s Catherine Williamson (GBR) and Alice Pirard (BEL). But De Groot and Stenerhag proved too strong on the climbs and managed to ride clear after the tech zone at 61km, staying away until the finish where they clocked a time of 4:15:26.
Williamson and Pirard finished second in 04:20:03 with Team Meerendal Wheeler 1’s Theresa Ralph (SA) and Esther Suss (SUI) rounding out the podium in 4:27:52. De Groot and Stenerhag now hold a seven-minute lead over Asrin Cycling.
‘We planned to just hold our lead today, so to increase it by that much was a bonus. The unpredictable nature of mountain biking makes you grateful for any time you can gain on a good day,’ said De Groot.
In the other team racing categories, South Africans Jonathan Odendaal and Bertus Odendaal (4 Brothers) were the top Amateurs and now hold the General Classification lead; while South Africans Kobus Barnard and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo Mixed) maintained their overall lead in the Mixed, despite finishing second on the day to Germans Max Friedrich and Jana Zieschank Firebike Tomotion by Blacktusk).
Heinz Zorweg (AUT) and Bartie Bucher (SUI) of Team Meerendal Wheeler 2 were the top Masters again, extending their category lead and South Africans Fanie Venter and Wayne McDuling, secured the Veteran men’s stage win and assumed the race lead.
In the Solo men’s division, Alan Gordon won the stage and claimed the division lead, while Christine Janse van Rensburg (SA), extended her overall lead in the Solo women’s race with a second stage win.
Tuesday’s Stage Two sees the contesting of the race’s Queen stage from Calitzdorp to the summit of the Swartberg Pass. At 86km, it’s relatively short, but with a total vertical ascent of 2781 metres, it’s unforgiving. Over 1000 of those climbing metres come in the final 11km ascent to the moutaintop finish.
It’s the richest stage in mountain bike stage racing with a total of R250 000 (about US$25 000) in cash, split equally between the first men’s team and the first women’s team to crest the summit. Expect to see teams now out of General Classification contention risk all to claim the covet stage victory.
‘It would be good to win this stage, but we have to be careful of defending our race lead,’ said Bohm. ‘There is quite a lot of climbing before the last mountain road. We plan to push hard before the last climb to make the pace hard for everyone. Then we will try to get a good rhythm up the last climb and try to hold it to the top. The most important is the Yellow Jersey, not the stage win,’ revealed Bohme.
‘We’d be silly not to go for the big prize on the mountain. But we will have to see how the day unfolds. Ideally we want to reach the climb feeling strong enough to give it a full go, but there’s quite a bit of stage before that so who knows?’ said De Groot.
Stage One results
1 Simon Stiebjahn (GER)/Tim Bohme (GER) – Team Bulls 3hr 44min 28sec
2 Philip Buys (SA)/Matthys Beukes (SA) – SCOTT Factory Racing 3:44:36
3 Ismael Venture (ESP)/Ramon Sagues (SA) – ESMTB.com 3:48:07
4 James Reid (SA)/Herman Persteiner (AUT) – Asrin Cycling 3:50:04
5 Waylon Woolcock (SA)/Darren Lill (SA) – Cannondale Blend 3:51:35
1 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE)/Robyn de Groot (SA) – Biogen Toyota Cape Brewing Co 4:15:26
2 Catherine Williamson (GBR)/Alice Pirard (BEL) 4:20:03
3 Theresa Ralph (SA)/Esther Suss (SUI) – Meerendal Wheeler 1 4:27:52
1 Jonathan Odendaal (SA)/Bertus Odendaal (SA) – Four Brothers 4:13:39
2 James Tennent (SA)/David Garrett (SA) – Giant 2 4:14:39
3 Jaco Ferreira (SA)/Alexander Lamberts (SA) – Columbia Europcar Bridge 4:19:22
1 Fanie Venter (SA)/Wayne McDuling (SA) – Pynfabriek 4:09:56
2 Marne Dirks (SA)/Pierre Griffioen (SA) – Bridge Torq Zone Vets 4:19:37
3 Malcolm Dods (SA)/Billy Stelling (SA) – Malcolm Dods 4:21:49
1 Heinz Zorweg (AUT)/Barti Bucher (SUI) – Meerendal Wheeler 2 3:58:07
2 Izak Visagie (SA)/Lieb Loots (SA) – Wilde 3 4:20:01
3 Kevin Record (SA)/Martin Buck (SA) – Buck n Pom 4:36:47
1 Max Friedrich (GER)/Jana Zieschank (GER) – Firebike Tomotion by Blacktusk 4:17:37
2 Kobus Barnard (SA)/Fienie Barnard (SA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 4:19:38
3 Vickus Boshoff (SA)/Anriette Schoeman (SA) – Sasol Racing Mixed 1 4:20:05
1 Alan Gordon (SA) 3:52:33
2 Ken van den Bulke (BEL) 3:56:14
3 Matthew Beers (SA) 3:57:38
1 Christine Janse van Rensburg (SA) 4:29:16
2 Katja Cauwenbergh (BEL) 4:55:46
3 Gina Nixon (SA) 5:14:24
General Classification after Stage 1
1 Simon Stiebjahn (GER)/Tim Bohme (GER) – Team Bulls 4hrs20min35sec
2 Philip Buys (SA)/Matthys Beukes (SA) – SCOTT Factory Racing 4:21:02
3 Ismael Venture (ESP)/Ramon Sagues (SA) – ESMTB.com 4:26:04
4 James Reid (SA)/Herman Persteiner (AUT) – Asrin Cycling 4:27:49
5 Waylon Woolcock (SA)/Darren Lill (SA) – Cannondale Blend 4:29:39
1 Jennie Stenerhag (SWE)/Robyn de Groot (SA) – Biogen Toyota Cape Brewing Co 5:00:09
2 Catherine Williamson (GBR)/Alice Pirard (BEL) 5:07:22
3 Theresa Ralph (SA)/Esther Suss (SUI) – Meerendal Wheeler 1 5:15:07
1 Jonathan Odendaal (SA)/Bertus Odendaal (SA) – Four Brothers 5:00:09
2 James Tennent (SA)/David Garrett (SA) – Giant 2 5:00:50
3 Jaco Ferreira (SA)/Alexander Lamberts (SA) – Columbia Europcar Bridge 5:04:44
1 Fanie Venter (SA)/Wayne McDuling (SA) – Pynfabriek 4:55:50
2 Marne Dirks (SA)/Pierre Griffioen (SA) – Bridge Torq Zone Vets 5:05:42
3 Malcolm Dods (SA)/Billy Stelling (SA) – Malcolm Dods 5:08:57
1 Heinz Zorweg (AUT)/Barti Bucher (SUI) – Meerendal Wheeler 2 4:39:18
2 Izak Visagie (SA)/Lieb Loots (SA) – Wilde 3 5:05:49
3 Kevin Record (SA)/Martin Buck (SA) – Buck n Pom 5:26:54
1 Kobus Barnard (SA)/Fienie Barnard (SA) – Klein Karoo Mixed 5:04:21
2 Max Friedrich (GER)/Jana Zieschank (GER) – Firebike Tomotion by Blacktusk 5:05:17
3 Vickus Boshoff (SA)/Anriette Schoeman (SA) – Sasol Racing Mixed 1 5:06:43
1 Alan Gordon (SA) 4:33:21
2 Matthew Beers (SA) 4:35:56
3 Ken van den Bulke (BEL) 4:37:12
1 Christine Janse van Rensburg (SA) 5:20:08
2 Katja Cauwenbergh (BEL) 5:50:28
3 Gina Nixon (SA) 6:07:26