Cool Weather Ensures Big Smiles at the 2019 Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge

(Stellenbosch, 2 March 2019) Cloudy skies, which gave way to drizzle by mid-morning, did not dampen the mood at the 2019 Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge in Stellenbosch on Saturday. The overcast conditions rather served to diminish the dust and keep the temperatures cool ensuring a great time was had by all on the Simonsberg Conservancy’s mountain bike trails.

The day got underway with some of the world’s best mountain bikers, including South African sensation, under 23 cross country world champion, Alan Hatherly, defending Cape Epic champion, Howard Grotts, and mountain biking legend Christoph Sauser racing in the 60 kilometre long route. The elite men’s and women’s races were fiercely contested, with Alan Hatherly holding off Matthew Beers in a sprint finish. Hatherly’s winning time was a new course record; two hours, nine minutes and five seconds. Danish former junior cross-country world champion, Simon Andreassen finished third. Candice Lill continued her fine early season form, securing victory over Mariske Strauss and 2018 champion Jennie Stenerhag.

The heart and soul of the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge is however not the elite racers, but the riders taking part for the simple joy of mountain biking. The fittest among them took on the challenging 60 kilometre route, which included some of the Simonsberg Conservancy’s most iconic trails. The more relaxed riders signed up for the 40 kilometre distance rather; choosing to cut out a few singletracks in order to ensure they were back at the Purple Windmill race village in time to enjoy the festive atmosphere to their heart’s content. For the newcomers to the sport and the youngest members of the Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge field the 20 kilometre route provided a taste of the fantastic riding on offer without proving too strenuous.

Out on the trails the relaxed atmosphere kept the spirits light, even on the infamously steep climbs leading to the spectacular singletracks. Conscious that one has to climb to enjoy the thrills of descending there was friendly banter whenever someone had to resort to pushing rather than pedalling up a hill. There was also a fantastic spirit of camaraderie on display on the trails.

Denzil Dylan Bart, of Slow Coach cycling tours, was one of the heroes of the day. Bart was riding with a group of clients and could be heard encouraging and cajoling them around the 40 kilometre route. At the Delheim water point, while waiting for all his riders to catch up, he provided a fellow rider with emergency bush-mechanic services. Bart helped convert the damaged bike to a single speed after the other rider’s derailleur had been torn off in a fall. Once he had helped out Bart stood enjoying the summer drizzle. “I’m just appreciating the petrichor” Bart confessed. “It is the smell of the earth after the rain.”

After the heat of the 2018 edition the little bit of rain was welcomed by all. Father and daughter Andre and Taryn-Maie Wille toughly enjoyed their morning on the Simonsberg and Klapmatskop trails. “It was stunning, beautiful ride, beautiful weather” Anre smiled. “We do a lot of these together” he continued. Picking up the story Taryn-Maie recounted with a laugh: “Shame, I did a lot of waiting. But it was lots of fun.”

They were not the only ones who loved the 2019 Cape Town Cycle Tour MTB Challenge experience, judging by the broad smiles of riders crossing the finish line. With Lifecycle Week now officially underway riders can hope that the broad grins, cool weather and wind-still conditions will be repeated, on Sunday the 10th of March.

 

ENDS

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