The women’s race saw Candice Lill (Summit Fin) outclass South African compatriot Mariske Strauss (Silverback) and three-time defending champion Jennie Stenerhag (Fairtree/Åbro). She rode a perfect tactical race, leading from early on to control the race all the way to the finish in a time of 02:33:48.
At the sharp end
Conditions on Saturday 2 March were cloudy and cool in the Simonsberg Conservancy, perfect for racing. “I’m really happy with the win,” commented Hatherly, who won the Under 23 Cross Country World Championships in 2018.
“I feel like Matt and I pretty much controlled the race from the start,” he said, explaining how they had studied the profile the previous evening and targeted the big climb at 28 kilometres.
A group of six riders got away from the start, which included previous champion Howard Grotts as well as Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude). “We kept our heads down until that climb and then worked to split the group,” Hatherly said.
They managed to get away, with only Geismayr and Andreassen staying in touch. “We knew that if we sat up the guys behind might recover and get back on. There were quite a few little kickers after that and also a lot of little devil thorns on the route.”
Geismayr suffered a bad puncture with around 20 kilometres to go leaving Beers and Hatherly to fight it out at the front, with Andreassen chasing solo. “I think a lot of guys were struggling with slow leaks, including myself,” Hatherly said. “I was on the rim and had to put a CO2 bomb in it and pray the sealant was going to hold and that I could hang on to Matt.”
Aside from the thorns, Hatherly was more than complimentary of the route. “Kudos to Meurant (Botha) or producing beautiful trails,” he said.
Women’s champion Candice Lill (Summit) – also winning in her first ever outing at the event – echoed Hatherly’s sentiments, “It was an awesome route,” she said, explaining how 60-kilometres is not a distance she normally races. “It is either a shorter cross-country style event or longer like at the Absa Cape Epic, so I knew I had to pace myself,” she said.
Lill led from early to win ahead of Mariske Strauss and three-time defending champion Jennie Stenerhag.
“I saw a lot of people go too fast early on and there was still a lot of pedaling to the line so you had to stay strong all the way to the end,” she said.
“I’m very happy with the way I rode today and happy to be taking this form into the Cape Town Cycle Tour next weekend – for which I am really excited – and then the Absa Cape Epic in two weeks’ time.”
A day for all
While the pros spent less than three hours on the amazing trails the day really belonged to all the weekend enthusiasts across the 20km, 40km, 60km routes. “Fantastic day for mountain biking,” commented David Bellairs, Media, Marketing and Sponsorship Director of the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust. “We had over 2200 participants across the distances and the weather played into our hands fantastically – overcast, with some rain coming down towards the end to keep the dust down. It looks like all participants have had an excellent day,” he said. “The ideal start to the Lifecycle Week, indeed.”
The Lifecycle week continues with the Cape Town Cycle Tour Junior Tour on Sunday 3 March and culminates in the Cape Town Cycle Tour on Sunday 10 March.
Alan Hatherly (Specialized) 02:09:05
Matt Beers (NAD) 02:09:06
Simon Andreassen (Specialized) 02:19:24
Candice Lill (Summit Fin) 02:33:48
Mariske Strauss (Silverback) 02:36:21
Jennie Stenerhag (Fairtree/Åbro) 02:37:07
Johan van Zyl
Willem van der Walt
Philip van Schalkwyk
Hendre de Villiers
Riatha van Zyl