Waylon Woolcock and Hennie Roux made an early breakaway to coast to a win in the opening stage of the Liberty Winelands Encounter in the Western Cape today.
The pair covered the 48km route from the Boschendal Wine Estate to Le Franschhoek Hotel in 1:54:22, setting themselves up for victory when the mountain-bike race ends on Sunday.
Filling second spot on the podium were Cobus Swanepoel and Neville Cragg (1:57:19), followed by Dawid de Bruin and Michael Dundulakis.
A former professional cyclist, Woolcock won the race in 2017 with HB Kruger and today’s efforts put him in line for a repeat performance.
Only this time he will be guiding his 19-year-old partner through the intricacies of stage racing as Roux, who is also from Stellenbosch, experiences his first Winelands Encounter.
Woolcock has been mentoring his colleague for the past two years and said they felt good going into the race.
“We managed to ride away on the first climb and from there it was just a matter of controlling things and making sure we enjoyed the experience,” he said.
“Hennie was pretty strong throughout the stage, so that is a sign that the work we have been doing is paying off.”
Woolcock said he was looking forward to the weekend to experience more of the ambience of the three-day event.
“Unfortunately I had some work commitments to handle after the stage, but everything is set up very nicely and we are looking forward to appreciating more of the hospitality on offer tomorrow and on Sunday.”
In the women’s race, Alta Kriegler and Sunette Beyers were first across the line, while Andrew Marsh and Anneke Viljoen lead the mixed category.
Cobus Barnard has a two-minute advantage over Simon Bothner in the men’s solo section and Amy McDougall is a clear leader in the women’s category.
Tomorrow’s stage will start and finish at Le Franschhoek Hotel, covering 48km with a total elevation of 1 144 metres. The race finishes at the Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl on Sunday.