Philip Fourie and Francois Ebersohn, of Pretoria, took the overall title in their debut appearance at the Liberty Waterberg Encounter today.
The three-day race finished at Sondela Nature Reserve near Bela-Bela in Limpopo after covering trails which also traversed sections of the Elements Private Golf Reserve over the weekend.
The winning team finished today’s stage in 2:05:20 for an overall time of 6:59:30.
They came home in the final stage ahead of Andre Gibhard and Lionel Scholtz (2:09:54) and Mark Prince and Michael Minnaar (2:10:05). The latter team were second overall, with Gibhard and Scholtz completing the general classification podium.
Ebersohn said they were able to build a gap on the first day which they maintained throughout the event.
“Although we compete regularly in races we came into the event not knowing quite what to expect,” he said.
“In the first stage on Friday [over 57km] we were able to get away about halfway through and spent the rest of the race riding by ourselves.”
He felt the second stage of 46km stood out the most for them during the weekend, combining as it did great trails with excellent views of wildlife in the bushveld.
“Day two was absolutely fantastic. It was completely different to day one, with specially built single-track through some very nice kloofs and water features. Add to that the game we saw and it was spectacular.”
Although the 56km third stage had been billed as largely downhill, Ebersohn said a headwind coming back into Sondela had made it “hard, hard, hard”.
“But we did finish with a 15km stretch of wonderful single-track, so that made it a great experience.”
Having had a taste of the Waterberg, Fourie said they would definitely be back for more.
“It was very well organised, with excellent food and entertainment and a really nice vibe during the two nights at Elements,” he said. “It’s definitely a ride which you’ll want to do again.”
Timo Cooper and Michaele Cooper won the mixed overall title in 7:51:14, ahead of Justin and Lizette Cave (8:34:45).
Yolandi Kotze and Alta Gosling were the women’s winners in 11:03:13, while Jacques Wentzel (7:43:27) took the solo men’s category, 10 minutes ahead of Francois Smith.