32 imagesTEAM BULLS RIDERS CHARGE TO DOMINANT VICTORIES AT TANKWA TREK Germany’s four-time ABSA Cape Epic champion, Karl Platt and his Team Bulls squad put on a dominant display to secure both Solo and Team victories on Stage 1 of the 2014 DUTOIT Tankwa Trek mountain bike stage race in South Africa’s Western Cape Province on Friday. Platt was the first rider to finish the demanding 88km stage, which included 1890 metres of vertical ascent and a crossing the of the Witzenberg mountain range. The 35-year-old German clocked a time of 03 hours 44 minutes 19 seconds, and was just centimetres ahead of his Swiss Cape Epic teammate, Urs Huber, with Waylon Woolcock (Cannondale Blend) a distant third. Platt and Huber’s dominance in the Solo category upset the rhythm of the Tankwa Trek, which, like most South African stage races, places the greatest emphasis on the two-rider team category. The Team Bulls 1 pair of Tim Bohme (GER) and Simon Stiebjan (GER) claimed the team division victory in a time of 03:46:35. Second place went to South African marathon champion, James Reid and Brendon Davids (Trek Racing) with another South African pair, Darren Lill and Charles Keey (Cannondale Blend), rounding out the podium places. “Urs and I entered the Solo category because we have proven ourselves as a good team and I wasn’t sure my form was as good at that of Urs and didn’t want to suffer unnecessarily. I felt good today though, but let’s see how my recovery goes for the other stages,” smiled Platt. “Urs is super strong and my form is around 85-90% and with six weeks to the Cape Epic, I’m feeling confident. I really had a lot of fun today and that’s a good sign. The course was amazing. Such variety, but so enjoyable and beautiful,” added Platt. In the women’s division, Swiss marathon champion Ariane Kleinhans and Cherise Stander (Team RE:CM) secured the stage win in a time of 04:41:05. Second and third places went to Team Sasol’s Ischen Stopforth and Yolande de Villiers with Hanlie Booyens and Mariske Strauss (Pragma Orange Monkeys) in third. Just over three minutes separates the top two teams. Leona Kadir secured victory in the women’s Solo division, while Andrew Payne and Bianca Caroulis captured the Mixed category stage win. Saturday’s Stage 2 takes the riders on a 91km haul through the Ceres Valley, with a total of 2900 metres of vertical ascent. A formidable feature of the stage is the Merino Monster, a 25km ascent with the last 8km pitched at an average gradient of 12%, sure to have an impact on the final stage result and possibly the overall standings too.
41 imagesBULLS TIGHTEN THEIR GRIP ON TANKWA TREK PODIUM Swiss racer Urs Huber led another Team Bulls podium charge when he stormed to a dominant men’s Solo and overall race win on Stage 2 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek mountain bike stage race in South Africa’s Western Cape province on Saturday. Huber led the strong international field home in a time of 03 hours 50 minutes 33 seconds for the 91km stage through the fruit-growing Cedarberg region, taking the overall Solo men’s category lead from Team Bulls stablemate, Karl Platt (GER), the Stage 1 winner. Platt rolled across the finish line on Saturday in second place in the Solo division, 04:38 down on Huber, his Cape Epic teammate. South African Waylon Woolcock (Cannondale Blend) rounded out the Solo men’s podium places almost 10 minutes down on Huber. Second to finish the stage behind Huber was the Team Bulls 1 pairing of Tim Bohme (GER) and Simon Stiebjahn (GER), who extended their overnight overall lead to just under nine minutes over Trek Racing’s South African pairing of James Reid and Brendon Davids, who were runners up on the second leg, which took place in hot, sunny conditions. Third placed team was the Fairview Elite pair of Adriaan Louw (RSA) and Konny Looser (BEL) who also moved into third on the General Classification with one stage remaining. “James Reid and Brendon Davids (Trek Racing) were very strong at the bottom of the big climb and I was in trouble there. But after the feed zone I managed to get back my rhythm and Tim and myself were able to catch them and got a small gap on them before the summit. Then it was fast, fun singletrack to the finish,” said Team Bulls’ Simon Stiebjahn. “I have never done a climb like that,” said Stiebjahn of the Merino Monster. “1000 metres up in 20km. It was really steep in the middle and it was very hot today so that made it tougher. The rest of the stage was really fun though. Great singletrack in a beautiful place.” In the women’s team division, Team RE:CM’s Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) and Cherise Stander (RSA) captured a second stage win and extended their overall lead. The pair clocked a time of 04:45:44, which put them in an impressive ninth team overall on the stage. The all-South African Sasol Racing pair of Ischen Stopforth and Yolande de Villiers were second on the stage and held their second spot overall. In the women’s solo division, England’s Leona Kadir captured the stage win and stretched her overall lead, while Andrew Payne and Bianca Caroulis dominated the stage among the Mixed teams, winning the day and also extending their overall lead. Sunday’s Stage 3 takes the riders on a 63km leg through the Koue Bokkeveld region. There’s an additional 26km neutral section at the start of the stage, which incorporates 30km of new, purpose-built singletrack through dramatic rock formations, making for a fresh challenge for the riders and sure to suit the more technically proficient competitors.
35 imagesDRAMATIC FINAL STAGE SEES REID, DAVIDS SECURE OVERALL TANKWA TREK WIN South African Erik Kleinhans and his Czech teammate, Frantisek Rabon (RE:CM Specialized) won the final stage of the three-day DUTOIT Tankwa Trek mountain bike stage race on Sunday, but it was the young South African pair of James Reid and Brendon Davids (Trek Racing) that claimed an impressive overall victory on a dramatic final day. Overnight leaders, Tim Bohme and Simon Stiebjahn (Team Bulls) failed to make the start line after Stiebjahn was felled by gastro bug and was too ill to ride. That effectively handed the lead to second-placed Trek Racing’s Reid and Davids, but the young pair of cross-country specialists still had to complete the 63km final leg against a strong international field. Huber and Platt finished with the top two teams to secure first and second places respectively in the men’s Solo division. As teammates, they finished second at last year’s ABSA Cape Epic will team up again as Team Bulls’ No. 1 team for next month’s edition of the Cape Epic, using the Tankwa Trek as a key final preparation race. Second in the General Classification was the Fairview Elite pair of Adriaan Louw (RSA) and Konny Looser (BEL) with Cannondale Blend’s Darren Lill (RSA) and Charles Keey (RSA) rounding out the final podium places. Team RE:CM’s Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) and Cherise Stander (RSA) completed their domination of the Tankwa Trek by claiming a third consecutive stage win and the overall women’s team title. They were always under pressure from the Sasol Racing pair of Ischen Stopforth (RSA) and Yolande de Villiers (RSA), who finished second on each stage and second overall. The final stage saw just a 17-second gap between RE:CM and Sasol Racing. The Pragma Orange Monkey’s pair of Hanlie Booyens (RSA) and Mariske Strauss (RSA) was third overall.