Gawie Combrinck and Nico Bell secured the first win of the 2018 Old Mutual joBerg2c when the Nad Pro Team pair claimed the first racing stage from Frankfort to Reitz on Saturday, but the most exciting racing was in the Amabokkebokkie Global Mixed Champs category with less than a minute separating the first two teams.
The newly introduced Global Mixed Champs category offers equal prize money to that of the leading men and the incentive of R100 000 led to some tight racing out front with stage winners Amy McDougall and Arno du Toit (dormakaba) only making the race-winning move within sight of the finish.
As the second placed Darren and Candice Lill were bogged down in a muddy section on the final climb up to the finish, the dormakaba pair made their move with Du Toit using his power to literally push McDougall up to the finish and edge them to a lead of 53 seconds.
“Arno and I are racing for the first time together and luckily we figured each other out early on,” said McDougall after the finish. “He is super supportive which makes a big difference. I was struggling in the beginning a bit and so we were happy to just be riding with Candice and Darren most of the way.
“We only broke away right on the last climb up to the finish. I got a bit of a gap on the final single-track descent but then we all came back together, and then Arno literally pushed me all the way to the finish.”
Du Toit said he saw the Lill husband and wife team were battling in a muddy section and decided to attack by giving Amy a push up the final climb. “The last two kilometres were a bit muddy and Darren and Candice got stuck, so we had a small gap and I thought ‘We have to go now’. I was just pushing Amy as hard as I could.”
“It was like the hand of God,” chimed in a giggling Amy.
Du Toit said they were not taking anything for granted after the win on the 90km stage. “I think it will be exciting racing … we are very evenly matched. I have never done mixed racing so I did not know what to expect, but it was great fun out there today.”
And the extra effort of pushing McDougall on the hills?
“Pushing Amy does not make too much of a difference, she is so light it is just like riding into a headwind,” he added with a grin.
Out front in the men’s race the NAD Pro pairing of Bell and Combrinck broke away from a big lead pack after about 25km. The leading individual rider, Matthys Beukes, joined them up front and from there the trio steadily increased their lead.
By the time they reached the finish the three riders had built up an advantage of almost three minutes over Shaun-Nick Bester and Declan Sidey (Silverback Best4Sports Mad Macs). Tim Hammond and Alan Gordon (Insect Science) are third, another two minutes further back
Beukes (PYGA Eurosteel) 3:01:27, holds a big lead over his nearest challengers in the Solo category. David Cooke and the first foreign rider to finish Stage 2, German Tobias Flath, who finished together, are 15 minutes behind the leader.
In the women’s team event Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) finished five minutes up on Adele Ambrose and Lauren Walker.
For the bulk of the 800-strong field, it was a day of touring and sight-seeing through South Africa’s mielie heartland. Water points were well-stocked with boerewors and other treats, while a group of local farmers also set up their own “water point” along the route to help keep riders refreshed with a selection of beverages and braai food.
Sunday’s day 3 of the joBerg2c is a 123km trek from Reitz to Sterkfontein Dam. The day includes the famous climb up Mt Paul in the final 20km, and an iconic finish on the 5km-long dam wall.
1 Gawie Combrinck, Nico Bell (NAD PRO) 3:01:26
2 Shaun-Nick Bester, Declan Sidey (Silverback Best4Sports Mad Macs) 3:04:15
3 Timothy Hammond, Alan Gordon (Insect Science) 3:06:51
4 Andrejus Dolgovas , Elijus Civilis (Top Team) 3:17:14
5 Paris Basson, Nico Pfitzenmaier (Dormakaba Mens) 3:20:50.
1 Matthys Beukes (PYGA Eurosteel) 3:01:27
2 David Cooke 3:16:22
3 Tobias Flath 3:16:22
4 Phillimon Sebona (PYGA Eurosteel) 3:17:12,
5 Shane Daniel 3:17:17
Amabokkebokkie Global Mixed Champs
1 Arno Du Toit, Amy Mcdougall (Dormakaba Mixed) 3:16:27
2 Darren Lill, Candice Lill (Team Lill) 3:17:20
3 Johan Labuschagne, Catherine Williamson (Surgeons for Little Lives / Mitas) 3:21:02
4 Yolandi Du Toit, Ben Melt Swanepoel (Team Garmin) 3:28:41
5 Frederic Gombert, Sophie Giovane (Chiru Magura) 3:33:22.
1 Sarah Hill, Theresa Ralph (Galileo Risk) 3:34:29
2 Adele Ambrose, Lauren Walker (Nix and Del) 3:59:13
3 Miriam Stronkhorst, Wendy Potgieter (Vye Ladies) 4:54:24.