Hennie Roux and Waylon Woolcock won their third straight stage to take the overall title when the Liberty Winelands Encounter drew to a close in the Western Cape today.
Finishing at the Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl, the pair covered the 50km route in 1:52:49 for an overall time of 5:52:44.
They were followed home on the day by Renz Rezelman and Thor Hansen, with Cobus Swanepoel and Neville Cragg third.
In the overall standings, Swanepoel and Cragg came second, with Dawid du Bruin and Michael Dundulakis filling third spot.
For Woolcock, it was a return to familiar territory as he regained the title he won with HB Kruger in 2017 when he was still competing as a professional rider.
He has since retired from pro cycling, but has taken Roux under his wing.
Roux said it had been a memorable experience in his fledgling mountain-bike career.
“It was truly an amazing weekend in my first real stage race ever,” he said.
“I was able to learn so much from Waylon, especially how to race smart – when to go harder and when to conserve energy. It was a really good lesson for me.”
In today’s stage, which took place in wet conditions, Roux said it was fairly flat in the first part and the group stayed together until about the 35km mark.
“We just sat on the front until there was a little kicker with a section of deep sand and we just went for it. We managed to get a gap and kept control until the finish.”
Besides his race experience, Roux said he would recommend that all mountain-bikers entered the Winelands Encounter.
“The off-the-bike hospitality is amazing. For instance, today it was quite cold after the rain but there were hot showers for us and the meals have been excellent.
“It’s a proper stage race because there were some really testing technical sections yesterday, and they add to the occasion by looking after you so well when the racing is done.”
The women’s team title went to Sunette Beyers and Alta Kriegler, while Andrew Marsh and Anneke Viljoen were crowned the mixed champions.
By coming third in today’s solo men’s category, De Villiers Odendaal was able to take the overall title, while Amy McDougall won her third stage to claim the women’s title.
The 43-year-old Odendaal, from Stellenbosch, said he was “a little surprised” at his win as he had also been third in the first two stages.
“But the top two in the category changed each day so I eventually finished on top of the podium,” he said.