Tuks got the better of the local favourites UCT in on Monday to claim stage one of Varsity MTB at Oak Valley.
The winning time for Antonie Joubert and Andries Nigrini was 02:49.03,0 with UCT’s Richard Simpson and Michael Lambrecht half-a-minute back on 02:49.38,0. Maties’ Michael Sutton & Morné Hollander claimed third, in 03:12.16,0 to be well off the pace which Tuks and UCT set across the 65km stage from Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West to Oak Valley Estate in Elgin.
This year’s Varsity MTB competition is being hosted by FNB Wines2Whales during their Pinotage event and got underway in consistent rain resulting in a muddy day on the bike.
The conditions meant that it was anything but plain sailing for any of the six men’s teams, not least Joubert and Nigrini who suffered misfortune soon after the start at Lourensford.
“It was honestly a brutal race today,” revealed Joubert post-stage at Oak Valley.
“I broke my chain in the first five minutes but we quickly got that fixed and got grinding back to chasing the teams. We actually caught UCT on the portage section [up Gantouw Pass] but then Andries got a few technical issues there and we lost them.”
Fortunately for the riders from University of Pretoria, there was enough left of the stage to close in on the UCT pair – and enjoy the likes of the A-N Singletrack and Willie’s Trail – and use their road-racing experience to kick past them.
“It was a fun race… it’s both of our first time racing a mountain bike stage race and we’ve been looking forward to it,” said a smiling Nigrini while unzipping his rain jacket to reveal that his jersey survived the worst of the mud.
While the conditions could be the main talking point of Varsity MTB Stage 1, Nigrini was quick to point out that there was more to it than that.
“The rain is the same for everyone, so it was fun, there were nice trails and the racing was hot.”
Tuesday’s Stage 2 will be an out-and-back from Oak Valley and is dubbed ‘Play Day’ because it features sublime singletrack, manicured berms and mind-blowing descents within the 64km.
VARSITY MTB STAGE 1 RESULTS – MEN
1. Andries Nigrini & Antonie Joubert (Tuks) 02:49.03,0
2. Richard Simpson & Michael Lambrecht (UCT) 02:49.38,0
3. Michael Sutton & Morné Hollander (Maties) 03:12.16,0
4. Brendan van Eeden & Christo Botes (NWU) 03:17.37,0
5. Jan Venter & Munro Munnik (Madibaz) 03:36.51,0
6. Vian Pretorius & Shaun-Cameron Swanepoel (TUT) 04:08.56,0
Follow race updates via @VarsitySportsSA on social media. For full results, visit www.wines2whales.com/riders/results-archive/.