Germany’s Karl Platt and Switzerland’s Urs Huber showed their impressive form one month ahead of the 2016 Absa Cape Epic when they charged to the stage win and overall lead on Day 1 of the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek, a three-day mountain bike stage race in South Africa’s Western Cape province on Friday.
The Team Bulls 1 pairing clocked a time of 03 hours 30 minutes 15 seconds for the 89km stage which started and finished at Kaleo Guest Farm and took the riders on a challenging loop that incorporated 1900 metres of accumulated ascent and the rugged, yet majestic Witzenberg Valley in the fruit-growing region two hours drive from Cape Town.
They were just under a minute ahead of their Team Bulls stablemates, Tim Bohme (GER) and Simon Stiebjahn (GER) of Team Bulls 2, who claimed the runner-up spot with the Investec-Songo-Specialized pair of Christoph Sauser (SUI) and Sam Gaze (NZL) rounding out the podium in 3:32:30.
The first South Africans home were HB Kruber and Johann Rabie (Team Telkom) in fourth place.
Defending women’s champions from the Ascendis Health team, Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) and Robyn de Groot (RSA), took over where they left off last year, winning the stage in a time of 04:14:56 and claiming the early lead. South Africans, Candice Neethling and Bianca Haw of Team Dorma Spur were next to finish, a distant 10 minutes back, while Theresa Ralph and Yolandi du Toit (Garmin Galileo Risk), were the third team home.
While the primary race focus is on the two-rider team category, there are a number of strong competitors in the Solo division. Germany’s Markus Bauer was the first Solo male home and the seventh rider to cross the finish in a time of 03:36:42 and Frenchwoman Fanny Bourdon was the first Solo female to finish in 4:30:59.
Huber and Platt were aggressive from the start, setting the pace along with Stiebjahn and Bohme and forcing their rivals to match it. The front group began to splinter after the first 15km, and then on the long eight-kilometre climb starting at 51km, Platt and Huber simply powered away from their remaining rivals and then held their lead until the finish.
“It went very well today. We kept it steady and held a high pace in the singletrack. We managed to get a proper lead on the long climb and then we worked at keeping that lead to the finish,” said Platt, a four-time Cape Epic winner and the current German marathon champion.
Saturday’s Stage 2 is the Tankwa Trek’s Queen Stage. While at 87km it’s a little shorter than Stage 1, it’s got more climbing. There’s a total of 2 200m of ascent with more than 1000 metres of that on just one climb, the massive Merino Monster.
The 20km ascent starts just after 45km at around 700 metres above sea level and ends at 65km at 1750m above sea level. If the weather is clear, the views across the surrounding valleys are spectacular. The top riders are unlikely to have time to notice though and the Merino Monster is expected to shake up the general classification in most categories.
For live race updates, follow @TankwaTrek on twitter. The stage will start at 06h30 on Saturday.
DUTOIT TANKWA TREK 2016
Stage 1, 89km – leading results:
1 Karl Platt (GER) / Urs Huber (SUI) Team Bulls 1 3:30:15
2 Tim Bohme (GER) / Simon Stiebjahn (GER) Team Bulls 2 3:32:13
3 Christoph Sauser (SUI) / Sam Gaze (NZL) Investec-Songo-Specialized 3:32:30
4 HB Kruger (RSA) / Johan Rabie (RSA) Team Telkom 3:39:02
5 Darren Lill (RSA) / Waylon Woolcock (RSA) USN Purefit 3:39:37
1 Markus Bauer (GER) 3:36:42
2 Adriaan Louw (RSA) Contego Swift 3:40:17
3 Matthew Beers (RSA) Red-E 3:43:32
4 Ben Melt Swanepoel (RSA) Squirt Merida 3:50:42
5 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) Topeak Ergon 3:56:32
1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) / Jennie Stennerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 4:14:55
2 Bianca Haw (RSA) / Candice Neethling (RSA) Spur Dorma 4:25:00
3 Yolandi du Toit (RSA) / Theresa Ralph (RSA) Garmin Galileo Risk 4:27:41
4 Isla Stow (RSA) / Marianne Bergli (NOR) Team Marila Ram 4:59:43
5 Marleen Lourens (RSA) / Ann Harrison (RSA) On the Go 5:14:21
1 Fanny Bourdon (FRA) 4:30:59
2 Liesbet Kristafor (RSA) 5:21:54
3 Leanne Brown-Waterson (RSA) 5:34:32
4 Beverley Wingfield (RSA) 5:42:40
5 Marietjie Lutz (RSA) 5:51:34
1 Carmen Buchacher (RSA) / Stephan Senekal (RSA) Velocity Sports Lab 4:28:11
2 James Lennard (RSA) / Katherine Lennard (RSA) Office National 4:39:03
3 Kobus Barnard (RSA) / Fienie Barnard (RSA) Dryland Mixed 4:39:07
4 Henning Blaauw (RSA) / Lousie Ferreira (RSA) Team Globeflight 4:55:52
5 Nichol Jordaan (RSA) / Jana Kruger (RSA) Jannie en Sannie 5:00:33
Veteran Men (40-49 years)
1 Andrew Davies (RSA) / Warren Price (RSA) 4:14:32
2 Christopher Maughan (RSA) / Russell de Jager (RSA) GVK Siya Zama 4:14:36
3 Carel Vosloo (RSA) / Tobie van Heerden (RSA) 4:19:13
Master Men (50-59 years)
1 Robert Sim (RSA) / Udo Boelts (GER) Robert Daniel 3:54:07
2 Doug Brown (RSA) / Andrew McLean (RSA) 4:08:30
3 Eben Espach (RSA) / Chris Fleming (RSA) Karan Beef Masters 4:28:50
For full results of all categories, visit www.tankwatrek.co.za