After a collective effort for most of the way, HB Kruger and Stuart Marais produced a push in the final kilometre to snatch the stage win on the third day of the Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter today.
The 102km leg from Hartenbos to Riversdale had an interesting finish as the South Africans picked up their third stage win after a late spurt in the Western Cape town’s twisting streets.
Crossing the line in 4:09:01, they came home seven seconds clear of Norwegians Eirik Fiskvik and Thomas Engelsgjerd (Happysalmon), with the French-German pair of Antonin Marecaille and Julian Biefang (Chiru-Magura-Canyon) two seconds further adrift.
The general classification remains unchanged, with the locals holding a nine-minute advantage over Marecaille and Biefang. The Norwegians are two minutes further back.
Kruger said they were happy with the final outcome, having ridden a bit more conservatively on the lengthy stage.
After a relatively easy start in a bunch of six teams, Kruger said they entered the Gondwana Nature Reserve where “things split up a bit”.
“It got a bit hilly and there were one or two steep inclines, which allowed the top three teams to get a bit of a gap over the other guys.
“The rest of the day we kept it pretty steady and everyone did their share, which worked out quite well.”
Although they have a decent buffer, Kruger said he and Marais would continue to take a cautious approach.
“We look at the next day’s route the night before and make sure we try to ride to our strengths,” he added.
“We are both good climbers so we will take any opportunities that arise to increase the lead, but we are not going to take any unnecessary risks.”
In the mixed category Belgium’s Kristof de Neys and Britain’s Catherine Williamson, the defending champion, continued to dominate, winning the stage in 4:35:54.
Tomorrow’s stage will see the riders tackle a distance of 106km with 1 500m of vertical ascent from Riversdale to Swellendam.
The fourth edition of the 614km race, supported by STANLIB and Volvo Cars, finishes at La Couronne Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Saturday.