Germany’s Karl Platt and Switzerland’s Urs Huber closed out the DUTOIT Tankwa Trek three-day international mountain bike stage race in South Africa on Sunday with a storming performance against a strong field, winning the final stage and extending their overall victory margin in the process.
The Team Bulls 1 pair clocked a winning time of 2 hours 51 minutes 21 seconds for the 78km stage, 67km of which was timed, following an 11km neutral zone. Second on the stage was the South African USN Purefit pair of Darren Lill and Waylon Woolcock, who were just under two minutes down, with another South African duo, Team NAD's Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell, rounding out the podium four seconds later.
In the overall classification Platt and Huber were a fairly dominant six minutes faster than runners-up, Switzerland’s Christoph Sauser and New Zealand’s Sam Gaze (Investec-Songo-Specialized). Woolcock and Lill claimed the final podium spot.
South African marathon champion, Robyn de Groot and Swedish marathon champion, Jennie Stenerhag of Ascendis Health comfortably won their third consecutive stage and successfully defended their women's title. Runners-up on the stage and overall were the Dorma Spur pairing of Candice Neethling and Bianca Haw, with Theresa Ralph and Yolandi du Toit (Garmin Galileo Risk) third on the stage and overall.
Germany’s Markus Bauer was once again impressive, crossing the finish line alongside Platt and Huber and extending his final victory margin the Solo men’s race, which he dominated. In the Solo women’s race, Frenchwoman Fannie Bourdon won her third successive stage and the category overall.
In the Mixed category, James and Katherine Lennard (Office National) claimed their first stage win, but their time gain wasn’t significant enough to upstage Velocity’s Sports Lab’s Stephan Senekal and Carmen Buchacher, who won the first two stages and the final overall title.
In the popular Veteran men’s division, Carel Vosloo and Tobie van Heerden won the final stage, but were second overall to Warren Price and Andrew Davies (Granite Blend), who cemented their overall victory with dominant wins on the first two stages.
The only category lead change on Sunday was in the Master Men’s division, where South Africans Doug Brown and Andrew McLean (Cycle Lab Toyota) won the stage and claimed enough time on overnight leaders, Robert Sim (RSA) and Udo Boelts (GER), to claim the category win. Like a number riders in the event, Sim was ill with a stomach bug, which saw him struggle through the final stage.
“I was ill in bed on Wednesday with a stomach bug. I wasn’t sure I would recover in time for the race. It’s something going around in Cape Town. There are many people I know with this stomach bug,” said Platt afterwards, who was ecstatic with his and Huber's performance.
Platt was fully recovered by Friday’s Tankwa Trek start though and on Sunday’s final leg, he and Huber were eager to erase the disappointment of their Stage 2 second place, courtesy of two punctures.
On Sunday, Team Bulls 1 were aggressive from the end of the neutral zone, leading the 700-plus strong field into the first of many sections of twisty singletrack. Much of the singletrack is deep, which makes passing extremely difficult and positioning from the entry points critical.
“I have never been in such good form so early in the year. Normally I get my race sharpness just before the start of the Cape Epic. This year I have already raced and won three tough races (Attakwas, Lanzerote and Tankwa Trek) and it’s only the middle of February. Me and Urs are very confident after this race. We need to maintain this form now for the Cape Epic,” added Platt, who is aiming to become the second rider (after Sauser) to win the Cape Epic five times.
“The Tankwa Trek trails are so lekker! Some really challenging surfaces and gradients here, which is a great form check for the Epic. Me and Urs have a very good partnership, so that was never a concern, but we were keen to see how our legs are feeling and they are clearly feeling really good,” smiled Platt.
“We are obviously happy to win the three stages and defend our title. We raced with no real pressure, which means we were able to be more cautious and avoid making mistakes. It’s a pity Ariane (Kleinhans) was ill. I think it would have been a lot more exciting if she had been able to race with Candice (Neethling),” said women’s winner, Robyn de Groot.
“We took the opportunity to test everything for the Cape Epic. The terrain and conditions here are very similar to the rough terrain days at the Epic. We actually made some adjustments here to our tyre and suspension pressures after Day 1, which we feel definitely helped on Days 2 and 3,” added De Groot.
“I was trying to hold on to the Bulls. They were so strong. There were crazy attacks before the first singletrack. I came into there in fourth position. The guys were going full gas today and I just tried to hold on. I’m really happy,” said Markus Bauer, Solo division winner and the only rider able to stay with Platt and Huber on the final stage.
DUTOIT TANKWA TREK 2016
Stage 3 – leading results:
1 Karl Platt (GER) / Urs Huber (SUI) Team Bulls 1 2:51:21
2 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) / Darren Lill (RSA) USN Purefit 2:53:12
3 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) / Nico Bell (RSA) Team NAD 2:53:16
4 Christoph Sauser (SUI) / Sam Gaze (NZL) Investec-Songo-Specialized 2:55:20
5 James Reid (RSA) / Howard Grotts (USA) Spur Specialized 3:01:40
1 Markus Bauer (GER) 2:51:22
2 Ben Melt Swanepoel (RSA) Squirt Merida 3:04:12
3 Nico Pfitzenmaier (RSA) Dorma 3:04:49
4 Guylin van den Berg (RSA) 3:05:24
5 Charles McFall (RSA) 3:05:56
1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) / Jennie Stennerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 3:25:27
2 Candice Neethling (RSA) / Bianca Haw (RSA) Dorma Spur 3:28:44
3 Theresa Ralph (RSA) / Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin Galileo Risk 3:31:47
4 Ila Stow (RSA) / Marianne Bergli (NOR) 3:45:41
5 Ann Harrison (RSA) / Marleen Lourens (RSA) On the Go 3:52:31
1 Fanny Bourdon (FRA) 3:34:19
2 Liesbet Kristafor (RSA) 4:06:20
3 Leanne Brownwaterson (RSA) 4:07:59
4 Marietjie Lutz (RSA) 4:54:19
1 James Lennard (RSA) / Katherine Lennard (RSA) Office National 3:33:10
2 Stephan Senekal (RSA) / Carmen Buchacher (RSA) Velocity Sports Lab 3:34:01
3 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) Dryland Mixed 3:40:25
4 Nadia Visser (RSA) / Rikus Visser (RSA) Assupol 3:40:26
5 Louise Ferreira (RSA) / Henning Blaauw (RSA) Team Globeflight 3:44:17
Veteran Men (40-49 years)
1 Carel Vosloo (RSA) / Tobie van Heerden (RSA) 3:16:07
2 Warren Price (RSA) / Andrew Davies (RSA) Granite Blend 3:16:36
3 Russel de Jager (RSA) / Christopher Maughan (RSA) GVK Siya Zama 3:18:02
Master Men (50-59 years)
1 Doug Brown (RSA) / Andrew McLean (RSA) Cycle Lab Toyota 3:11:12
2 Deon Kruger (RSA) / Greg Anderson (RSA) Bus Boys 3:17:00
3 Robert Sim (RSA) / Udo Boelts (GER) Robert Daniel 3:22:57
Final General Classification
1 Karl Platt (GER) / Urs Huber (SUI) Team Bulls 1 10:09:20
2 Christoph Sauser (SUI) / Sam Gaze (NZL) Investec-Songo-Specialized 10:15:26
3 Waylon Woolcock (RSA) /Darren Lill (RSA) USN Purefit 10:21:54
4 Gawie Combrinck (RSA) Nico Bell (RSA) 10:25:26
5 James Reid (RSA) / Howard Grotts (USA) Spur Specialized 10:44:15
1 Markus Bauer (GER) 10:15:57
2 Erik Kleinhans (RSA) Topeak Ergon 11:07:26
3 Nico Pfitzenmaier (RSA) Dorma 11:14:44
4 Guylin van den Berg (RSA) 11:20:55
5 Ben Melt Swanepoel (RSA) Squirt Merida 11:30:36
1 Robyn de Groot (RSA) / Jennie Stennerhag (SWE) Ascendis Health 12:14:11
2 Candice Neethling (RSA) / Bianca Haw (RSA) Spur Dorma 12:36:36
3 Theresa Ralph (RSA) / Yolandi du Toit (RSA) Garmin Galileo Risk 12:51:21
4 Ila Stow (RSA) / Marianne Bergli (NOR) 14:04:14
5 Ann Harrison (RSA) / Marleen Lourens (RSA) On the Go 14:43:53
1 Fanny Bourdon (FRA) 12:55:35
2 Liesbet Kristafor (RSA) 15:10:33
3 Leanne Brownwaterson (RSA) 15:51:35
4 Marietjie Lutz (RSA) 17:02:49
1 Stephan Senekal (RSA) / Carmen Buchacher (RSA) Velocity Sports Lab 12:40:14
2 James Lennard (RSA) / Katherine Lennard (RSA) Office National 13:02:00
3 Fienie Barnard (RSA) / Kobus Barnard (RSA) Dryland Mixed 13:09:44
4 Nadia Visser (RSA) / Rikus Visser (RSA) Assupol 13:44:31
5 Louise Ferreira (RSA) / Henning Blaauw (RSA) Team Globeflight 13:46:17
Veteran Men (40-49 years)
1 Warren Price (RSA) / Andrew Davies (RSA) Granite Blend 11:52:43
2 Russel de Jager (RSA) / Christopher Maughan (RSA) GVK Siya Zama 12:11:29
3 Carel Vosloo (RSA) / Tobie van Heerden (RSA) 12:38:23
Master Men (50-59 years)
1 Doug Brown (RSA) / Andrew McLean (RSA) Cycle Lab Toyota 11:28:27
2 Robert Sim (RSA) / Udo Boelts (GER) Robert Daniel 11:36:11
3 Deon Kruger (RSA) / Greg Anderson (RSA) Bus Boys 12:12:26
For full results of all categories, visit www.tankwatrek.co.za