After six days of predictable results, the AmaBokkeBokkie Global Mixed Champs category burst into life on Thursday’s seventh stage of the Old Mutual joBerg2c with runaway leaders Amy McDougall and Arno du Toit having their lead almost halved by a mechanical problem early in the stage.
Taking advantage of the dommakaba team’s misfortune was the husband and wife pairing of Darren and Candice Lill (Team Summit), who powered over the line as the third team overall on the stage in a time of 3:05:24, ten minutes ahead of their rivals in the mixed category and just 12 minutes behind the stage winners Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro).
Crossing the line with the NAD Pro duo was the ever-present Matthys Beukes (PYGA Eurosteel) who extended his overall lead in the solo category to an hour after his teammate, and the runner up in the individual class, Phillimon Sebona, misread his GPS and took a wrong turn, losing a huge chunk of time as he battled to rejoin the route in a thick forest section.
But the talk of the overnight stop at MacKenzie Club near Creighton was the drama which nearly derailed the leaders of the AmaBokkeBokkie Global Mixed Champs about 25km into the 82km stage from Underberg. The 10-minute gain for Team Summit on Thursday means they have 15 minutes to make up on McDougall and Du Toit in the final timed stage on Friday, a gruelling 95km slog to Highflats just inland of Scottburgh.
Du Toit said his chain popped off the back cassette and the chain slipped into the spokes.
“As I was pulling over to stop, the chain went between the cassette and the spokes and ripped a lot of the spokes out. It also pushed spokes through the rim tape so I punctured as well,” said a tired Du Toit.
“Basically from there I was riding on half the spokes. Every time I pedalled and put pressure, the torque would buckle the wheel and it would rub on the frame. It was rubbing so badly on the frame that Amy was actually pushing me while I was pedalling as hard as I could.
“It was such panic for us and I was desperately trying to stay calm. I thought the wheel could collapse at any moment and then we would not have been able to finish. I was nursing it home all the way. I did not want to turn too hard, or break too hard, or hit anything. It was such a mission.
McDougall, who has been the recipient of Du Toit’s power on just about every stage during the week, enjoyed being able to return the favour.
“Yah I could not believe it. I was pushing him! It felt quite cool that I was actually pushing him for a change. But it was so intense. I just kept saying to myself every kay: ‘Please, please just hold until the end’. If the wheel had collapsed I don’t know what I would have done.
“Although,” the diminutive McDougall said with a mischievous grin, “I have been noticing how much time Arno has been spending at the dessert tables this week. He says it was the chain, but I think maybe the wheel was not damaged and he has just been eating too many chocolate brownies this week and the wheel could not hold his weight!”
Friday’s penultimate joBerg2c stage is the final timed stage and sees riders take on the beautiful Umkomaas Valley in a journey from Ixopo’s MacKenzie Club to Jolivet near Highflats.
The stunning views from the cliffs overlooking the Umkomaas River, and descent down onto the flood plains below, are balanced by one of the race’s toughest climbs.
After crossing the river twice, riders have to battle their way out of the valley once again on the long and appropriately named Iconic Climb.
AMABOKKEBOKKIE GLOBAL MIXED CHAMPS:1 Darren Lill, Candice Lill (Team Summit) 3:05:24, 2 Amy Mcdougall, Arno Du Toit (Dormakaba Mixed) 3:15:38, 3 Johan Labuschagne, Catherine Williamson (Sugeons for Little Lives / Mitas) 3:16:37, 4 Yolandi Du Toit, Ben Melt Swanepoel (Team Garmin) 3:21:17, 5 James Thompson, Carolyn Thompson (Old Mutual Insure 2) 3:28:42.
MEN’S TEAMS: 1 Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 2:53:09, 2 Alan Gordon, Timothy Hammond (Insect Science) 2:58:31, 3 Alex Pavlov, Jaco Cronje (Old Mutual Insure / Norco) 3:05:25, 4 Shaun-Nick Bester, Declan Sidey (Silverback Best4Sports Mad Macs) 3:06:57, 5 Andrejus Dolgovas, Elijus Civilis (Top Team) 3:10:12.
INDIVIDUAL: 1 Matthys Beukes (PYGA Eurosteel) 2:53:10, 2 David Cooke 3:07:49, 3 Shane Daniel 3:11:58, 4 Tobias Flath 3:15:31, 5 Neill Clarke 3:16:10.
WOMEN’S TEAMS: 1 Theresa Ralph, Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk) 3:31:29, 2 Adele Ambrose, Lauren Walker (Nix and Del) 3:57:52, 3 Tania Rossouw, Christine Van Der Walt (Ts and Cs Apply) 4:05:30, 4 Wilmien Chamberlain, Johanita De Waal (2 nam bred Moms) 4:10:02.
AMABOKKEBOKKIE GLOBAL MIXED CHAMPS: 1 Amy Mcdougall, Arno Du Toit (Dormakaba Mixed) 27:12:25, 2 Darren Lill, Candice Lill (Team Summit) 27:27:49, 3 Johan Labuschagne, Catherine Williamson (Sugeons for Little Lives / Mitas) 28:03:41.
MEN’S TEAMS: 1 Nico Bell, Gawie Combrinck (NAD Pro MTB) 25:24:01, 2 Alan Gordon, Timothy Hammond (Insect Science) 25:54:35; 3 Shaun-Nick Bester, Declan Sidey (Silverback Best4Sports Mad Macs) 26:19:44.
INDIVIDUAL: 1 Matthys Beukes (PYGA Eurosteel) 25:19:32, 2 Phillimon Sebona (PYGA Eurosteel 2) 26:21:40, 3 David Cooke 27:30:09.
WOMEN’S TEAMS: 1 Sarah Hill, Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 30:10:25, 2 Adele Ambrose, Lauren Walker (Nix and Del) 33:44:16, 3 Johanita De Waal, Wilmien Chamberlain (2 nam bred Moms) 35:21:08.