Overnight leaders Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger crowned their first appearance in the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek mountain bike race outside Port Elizabeth by clinching the overall title today.
In a close finish to the final day, the BCX duo made it three stage wins in a row when they broke near the end at the Zuurberg Mountain Village, near the Addo Elephant National Park, to cross the line 20 seconds ahead of their rivals.
Taking a four-minute cushion in the final day, the Western Cape pair finished the 50km stage in 2:11:40 for a combined race time of 8:08:01.
They were followed home by the Ascendis-LCB outfit of Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit, who finished in 2:12:00 to take the runner-up spot in the overall standings in 8:12:30.
Defending champion Andrew Hill, who teamed up with Marco Joubert for TIB Insurance-Momsen, finished third on the day in 2:12:16 as well as in the general classification in 8:15:49.
With a four-minute buffer going into the technically challenging final stage, Woolcock said their strategy was based on defence rather than attack.
The top three teams rode together for nearly the whole stage until Woolcock said they made a move with about a kilometre to go.
“We saw Arno taking a bit of strain coming up the last drag to the finish so we just put the hammer down for the stage win,” said Woolcock.
Reflecting on the event, he said they were very happy with their decision to compete and that the win was important for them.
“It’s important for us to aim high and doing well gives us and our sponsors great exposure and that’s always an incentive to go for the win,” said Woolcock after he and Kruger also won the Winelands Encounter last month.
Knowing they needed to force the pace for a shot at the overall victory, Heyns and Du Toit said they tried to put on the pressure from the start.
“But the BCX guys rode very well defensively and we couldn’t really get away,” said Du Toit.
“Still, it was an awesome experience with some great trails and we really enjoyed the vibe on and off the bike.”
The mixed title went to Neill Ungerer and Yolande de Villiers of Dryland-Ultimate Cycling, who dominated all three stages for a decisive victory.
Ungerer said the race was memorable, even though the last climb “is always a little killer”.
“But when you have a partner like Yolande you couldn’t ask for better. Everything went well, with awesome trails and a great vibe off the bike.”
The women’s category went to GZT-Pedigree’s Siska van der Bijl and Annie Davids.