Belgian Eddy Feliers made it a day to remember on the fifth stage of the TransCape mountain bike race when he and teammate Kristof de Neys took the stage win between Swellendam and Greyton today.
Feliers celebrated his 49th birthday as he and De Neys, riding for Cicero Baik, brought the bunch home for their first stage win in this year’s 690km event, which started in Knysna on Sunday.
Today’s route of 112.5km, which included about 1 500m of climbing, saw overall leaders Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker of Ellsworth-ASG have a quieter day to follow the Belgians over the line.
Feliers and De Neys crossed the line in 4:14:14 to maintain the second fastest overall time of 21:46:26, while the race leaders came home in 4:14:21 (20:34:33).
In third place on the day in 4:21:25 were the RR pair of Ryan Loots and Rodney Stroud. However, the Bromance team of William and David Wertheim Aymes remained third overall on 22:08:37.
The 25-year-old Walker, from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal, said they had eased off slightly after building up a comfortable lead following the first four stages.
“It was also nice to honour Eddy and we spent quite a bit of time with the bunch and enjoyed interacting with them.
“After starting with the group we got away at about 30km, but at waterpoint one there were some guys just off the back of us and slowly catching up.”
Walker said they stopped at the waterpoints where the bunch would, at times, go ahead of them.
“We would then work hard to catch up with what became a big bunch towards the end, with Eddy and Kristof leading us home.”
The KZN rider said he and the 30-year-old Seyffert, from Helderkruin on the West Rand, were enjoying the TransCape experience, which was preparing them well for races ahead.
“This has been a very nice training block for us. Although we took it a bit easier today, we have not been dawdling and this will definitely help us.”
Feliers said he had “suffered a bit” during the stage after expecting a slightly easier time.
“They said it would be a nice stage but I only saw two things today – my front wheel and the rear wheel of my partner,” he said.
“I just put my head down and ground away. It was hard but I’m a happy man.”
Feliers said they would keen to stay in second place overall tomorrow and then “enjoy the last day”.
Riding in the mixed category, the Spar team of Catherine Williamson and Hannele Steyn stopped the clock on 4:14:22 for an overall time of 21:55:24.
Ian and Jane Seggie were second in 4:56:22 (26:12:35), with Craig Chidrawi and Charmaine Werdmuller, who finished in 5:21:29 (28:21:26), lying in third.
Billy Stelling finished in 4:14:18 to stay on top of the men’s solo category (22:04:27). Belgian Karl Dossche clocked a time of 4:19:55 to remain second (22:11:36) in the standings, with Alan Tilling in third overall (22:40:00).
In the women’s solo event, Alma Colyn won her fifth stage in a row in 4:21:33 (22:20:20), followed by Mandy Langebrink in 4:56:24 (25:49:19). Chandre Wertheim Aymes occupies third overall (29:09:58).
Tomorrow’s penultimate stage, which is nicknamed “Heaven”, covers a distance of 68km between Greyton and Villiersdorp with 1 700m of climbing.
The seven-day race finishes at the La Couronne Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Saturday.