Stage 1 of the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, saw the teams take to the forest singletracks of George on Monday, 4 September. Marco Joubert and Wessel Botha, of Imbuko Giant, were victorious in the UCI men’s race, after a fast and tactical battle. While Efficient Infiniti Insure’s Kim le Court and Samantha Sanders added to their general classification lead in the UCI women’s competition.
The second day of the thirteenth edition of the Race with Soul featured a singletrack packed 55-kilometre route, which also included 1 750 metres of elevation gain. Though the day did boast four significant climbs it was the constant changing in pitch which made the day particularly arduous. The accumulated fatigue this brought about also proved pivotal in determining the stage winners.
In the UCI men’s race, five teams initially established an advantage together. They were the yellow jersey wearer, Imbuko Giant, their Imbuko Giant B support team, Valley Electrical Toyota, Insect Science and Trek SA. Justin Chesterton and Kai von During were the first of that elite group to be distanced, followed by Pieter du Toit and Rudi Koen.
This left Joubert and Botha up against Arno du Toit, Keagan Bontekoning, Gert Heyns and Tristan Nortje on the trails. “It was lekker racing with and against some good friends,” Arno du Toit noted about the day’s stage. “Without Imbuko Giant B enforce a tempo the racing got quite tactical at times today,” Bontekoning explained. “It was very fast on the climbs, but on the flatter sections there was a bit of looking at each other. Our plan had been to follow today, rather than to make the racing, so that was perfect.”
Entering the final 10 kilometres it looked as if the day might come down to a sprint finish. Yet that was not to be as Imbuko Giant kicked on the final steep climb. “I struggled on all the major climbs,” Heyns confessed. “But I managed to regain contact every time on the descents. Until the last climb when I got distanced.”
Heyns’ struggles put Joubert and Botha head-to-head against Arno du Toit and Bontekoning. “Attack is the best form of defence,” Joubert smiled. “So, we had planned to make the racing tough today. After the halfway point it was clear that Wessel [Botha] and I were both feeling good and we went all in for the stage win. We’ve built a good advantage now, but there’s still a lot of racing to come and our lead is anything but secure.”
Imbuko Giant’s winning margin on the day was 43 seconds, which was aided slightly by Bontekoning taking a wrong turn in the run-in to the finish. Valley Electrical Toyota ceded 1 minute and 39 seconds to the men in the yellow First Ascent leaders jerseys. This means that Joubert and Botha now lead Heyns and Nortje by 1 minute and 55 seconds on the general classification, with Arno du Toit and Bontekoning at 3:25 back.
In the UCI women’s race Le Court and Sanders pressed on to establish an advantage early in the piece. The Efficient Infiniti Insure combination explained that their plan had been to push when it was safe to do so. “After my fall in Switzerland I don’t want to take any undue risks,” Le Court explained. “We pushed hard on the climbs, but rode the descents safely.”
This tactic still allowed them to grow their advantage throughout the stage. They eventually crossed the stage finish line, at Glenwood House School, 9 minutes and 35 seconds ahead of Vivovita-Bell’s Sarah Hill and Hayley Smith. Who in turn were over 10 minutes up on Karla Stumpf and Kelsey van Schoor in third.
“We’re really happy with how today went!” an ecstatic Van Schoor smiled. “We came into the race hoping to challenge for a top five place and to claim a podium finish on day two is an amazing result, especially with such incredible riders ahead of us. I enjoyed the trails today too, even though I don’t get to ride a lot of singletrack normally. But I’ve got a great wheel to follow in Karla [Stumpf].”
Le Court and Sanders’ second stage victory gives them an 11 minute and 39 second lead heading into Stage 2. Hill and Smith are second in the UCI women’s general classification battle. While the Biogen team leapfrogged into third, benefitting not only from their good day but also from the travails of the Bike Park Uitsig – SCR Academy combination, who dropped from third to fifth after Stage 1.
Stage 2 is the first transition stage of the race, taking the teams from Glenwood House, in George, to Louvain, in the Langkloof. The route measures 79 kilometres in length and features 1 950 meters of climbing. After a testing first 30 kilometres through the forest foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains, above George, the climbing begins in earnest with the ascent of Montagu Pass. From the summit the course turns east and stings with two more rocky climbs. Proper platteland hospitality awaits at Louvain too, to help the teams prepare for the days to come.
To see how the racing will unfold on Stage 2, watch the Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen or @capepioneer Facebook or Instagram stories. Additional updates can also be found at @CapePioneerTrek on Twitter. For more information visit www.capepioneer.co.za.
Results: Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen
Stage 1 | Men’s Results:
- Imbuko Giant A: Marco Joubert & Wessel Botha (2:22:16)
- Insect Science 1: Arno du Toit & Keagan Bontekoning (2:22:59 | +43)
- Valley Electrical Toyota: Gert Heyns & Tristan Nortje (2:23:55 | +1:39)
Stage 1 Results | Women:
- Efficient Infinity Insure: Kim le Court & Samantha Sanders (3:03:48)
- Vivovita-Bell: Sarah Hill & Hayley Smith (3:13:23 | +9:35)
- Biogen: Karla Stumpf & Kelsey van Schoor (3:24:09 | +20:21)
Men’s General Classification after Stage 1:
- Imbuko Giant A: Marco Joubert & Wessel Botha (3:18:25)
- Valley Electrical Toyota: Gert Heyns & Tristan Nortje (3:20:29 | +1:55)
- Insect Science 1: Arno du Toit & Keagan Bontekoning (3:21:50 | +3:25)
Women’s General Classification after Stage 1:
- Efficient Infinity Insure: Kim le Court & Samantha Sanders (4:13:28)
- Vivovita-Bell: Sarah Hill & Hayley Smith (4:25:07 | +11:39)
- Biogen: Karla Stumpf & Kelsey van Schoor (4:42:14 | +28:46)
To view the full results from the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, click here.