The inaugural Underberg Gran Fondo gravel bike race saw the Gauteng trio of Alwyn Steenkamp, Brandon Downes and Tristan Cuthbert cross the line at Sani Spoors to claim line honours on a cold day of racing in the Southern Drakensberg. The TEG team mastered the gravel roads and progressively cooler conditions to cover the distance in a well-managed team effort to become the new race’s first champions.
“The race spread out quickly,” said Steenkamp. “By the top of the first climb there were only five of us. On the main climb we got rid of the other two. I started to take some damage at around seventy kilometres, and my two teammates took good care of me all the way to the finish.”
An exhausted and cold Courtney Webb claimed the women’s honours in the 140k ride.
“It was really hard,” said Courtney. “A hundred and forty kays on that gravel was tough and the weather was really cold which made it even harder. But it was fun,” the Capetonian added. “At the start you wonder how you are going to get through a hundred and forty kays!”
“This is only the second gravel race I have done after last weekend’s race in Swellendam, which was in the pouring rain. The views were stunning, even with the mist that we had on the day,” she added.
The event decided the titles for the first ever KZN Gravel Championships, and as a closed event saw the titles going to the top finishers from the host province.
Seasoned ultra-distance rider Kevin Benkenstein took the overall men’s title, with seasoned pro Team EdgeUp Life rider S’annara Grové claiming the women’s title.
The 90km race was won by Andrew Neal, with Saskia van der Merwe riding away to top the 90km women’s podium, ahead of Julia Lee in second, a remarkable recovery after starting fifteen minutes behind the rest of the field after sorting out technical problems with her bike at the start.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
UNDERBERG GRAN FONDO
1.Alwyn Steenkamp 4:59
2.Brandon Downes 4:59
3.Tristan Cuthbert 4:59
1.Courtney Webb 5:46:15
2.S’annara Grové 6:17:15
3.Sarah van Heerden 6:34
1.Andrew Neal 4:03:37
2.Bryan Berkeljon 4:23:56
3.Green Groenewald 4:53:04
1.Saskia van der Merwe 4:54
2.Julie Lee 4:59
3.Cora-Gene Spires 5:08
More information can be found at www.underberggranfondo.co.za
Source: Gameplan Media