Tuesday, 17 March 2015
Start location: Oak Valley, Elgin
Finish location: Oak Valley, Elgin
Climbing: 2 300m
First there were a few climbs to negotiate ‘tough’: at about 5km there was a short, but particularly nasty one, that had concrete strips for traction and then they went on to tackle the Nuweberg from the east side. This was the biggest climb of the day – it was about five and a half kilometres with a gradient steeper than 25% on one section. Riders had to watch out for some washed out segments on the descents as the course weaved over the hills above Grabouw and on to the singletrack heaven. The trail carved through about 7km of forest before depositing elated riders at the Elgin Country Club and Waterpoint 2. The singletrack was far from over and soon riders were crossing over and through the Oak Valley Wine Estate and Paul Cluver Estate, both with some of the best purpose-built trails around. Lots of spectators were waiting at the Paul Cluver amphitheatre with its bridges and North Shore-type elevated sections.
Stage 2 results
Jaroslav Kulhavy and four-times Absa Cape Epic winner, Christoph Sauser, (Investec Songo Specialized) won their second stage in a row and extended their overall lead to more than six minutes. In a day of thrilling racing, Hynek and Lakata (Topeak Ergon) managed to break away with Sauer and Kulhavy at the top of the tough Nuweberg climb. For the rest of the day they were chased by Karl Platt and Urs Huber (Bulls) and Jose Hermida and Rudi van Houts (Multivan Merida). In the end, Hynek and Lakata could not hold on and dropped back, eventually finishing two minutes and 18 seconds behind Sauser and Kulhavy.
The women’s race came to a dramatic conclusion. Although finishing the day in a blistering time of 4:37.31,1, Team RECM Specialized’s Annika Langvad and Ariane Kleinhans had to wait until the very end of the day to hear their race fate. This, after they took an unintentional detour close to the finish line and in doing so cut almost 5km off their race distance. The commissaire decided that 13 minutes and 39 seconds would be added to the team’s stage time. In addition, an extra hour was added for not following the route markings. The time penalties meant that they finished 11th on the day and took Langvad and Kleinhans out of the category leaders’ jersey and into fourth place on the standings. Jennie Stenerhag and Robyn de Groot (Ascendis Health) moved into first place.
There was also drama in the Mixed category when overnight leaders Rene Haselbacher and Sabine Sommer (ENS RH77) got lost towards the end of the stage and finished fourth in the category on the day – more than 12 minutes back.
Exxaro MTB Academy teams
The weather was better but still very windy in places, which made the going quite tough. All the Exxaro teams finished the stage and the general feeling was that they were in better shape than the previous day. They experienced a few niggling injuries, but nothing serious.
Phillimon Sebona and Jan Montshioa (Exxaro/PwC 1) executed their strategy brilliantly and won the stage with a sprint finish against Siphosenkosi Madolo and Azukile Simayile (Investec Songo Specialized 2).
It was a better day for the Mixed category riders, Justice Makhale and Rozalia Kubwana (Exxaro/PwC 2), but they are still well down the category placings.