Riding aggressively from the start, Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger sent their rivals in the three-day Liberty Winelands Encounter a strong message as they won the 54km opening stage today.
Although the BCX pair were pushed at times, they broke away after 25 kilometres in the trek from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek to stand on top of the podium with a time of 2:11:39.
Andrew Hill and Marco Joubert (TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light) followed them home in 2:14:52, with Jurgens Uys and Nicol Carstens (Versus Socks) third in 2:16:50.
Although Woolcock, from Stellenbosch, and Kruger, from nearby Paarl, are riding the race for the first time, they said they were familiar with the area.
The strategy going into the first stage was to make a move on the climb out of Stellenbosch, which allowed them to set the pattern for the stage.
Woolcock said the dry conditions made the route tricky at certain sections and they had to keep their concentration throughout the stage.
“When I did lose a bit of concentration I had a slight front wheel drift and ‘bought a small plot’, but no major damage was done,” said Woolcock.
Although Uys and Carstens stayed with them in the first half of the race, Woolcock said he knew their rivals were working hard to keep in touch after they opened a gap on the ascents.
“They were riding five per cent harder just to get back to us and we were riding tempo and actually saving energy.
“Once we exited Boschendal on the mountain side towards the Rupert’s L’Ormirans Wine Farm, they held on for a few kilometres before we broke away again and kept the gap until the end.”
Despite their three-minute lead, Woolcock said they would not be thinking too far ahead.
“We can’t relax at any stage and our opponents are the types of riders who will be on our heels to capitalise on any mistakes.”
In the women’s race, Swedish Cape Epic champion Jennie Stenerhag and her South African partner Katie Lennard (Cape Brewing Company) took a firm grip on proceedings by finishing the stage in 2:35:00.
They are well ahead of Jana Kruger and Ilse Viljoen (Companero), who filled second spot in 3:07:51.
Riding the race for the first time, Stenerhag said they broke away early on and built up a sizeable lead.
“It was a very good day and we rode steadily after getting away at the start,” she said.
The mixed category is led by Corne Barnard and Vera Adrian (dormakaba RA), who finished the stage in 2:27:15, followed by Matthew Stamatis and Carmen Buchacher (Home Ice Cream) in 2:31:51.
TransCape men’s champion Pieter Seyffert and An-Li Kachelhoffer (Bestmed-Ellsworth-ASG) were third in 2:40:24.
Tomorrow’s second stage will cover a distance of 54km from Franschhoek to Wellington.