After two days of tough racing the men’s team from the University of Cape Town were crowned the 2017 champions with the women’s team from the University of Stellenbosch dominating their division to clinch a second successive title.
Going into the final day the University of Stellenbosch men’s team had a slight lead over their traditional rivals, and they knew that the UCT men were going to come out guns blazing. UCT rider Luke Evans, who has experience riding in big events such as the Sani2C, raced out ahead and the Maties duo of Tristan de Lange and Rinus Maarsingh had to try and prevent Martin Freyer from passing them. Freyer rode a very tactical race and with 5kms to go he linked up with Evans and they raced into Nederburg estate in a time of 02:33:21.
This meant that they had made up time over the Maties team and they knew that anything more than 01:14 difference would see them claim the title due to a better time over the two stages. De Lange and Maarsingh crossed in a time of 02:33:21 and this meant that UCT won the 2017 Varsity Sports MTB men’s division by a margin of 26 seconds. Considering the race had been over more than 100km and 3000m of vertical climbing, it is testament to the talent and grit of both teams.
The UP-Tuks pair of William Mokgopo and Felix Manke were next to cross in a time of 02:49:05 and they wrapped up the bronze medal after finishing both stages in third place.
NWU and Madibaz both finished with approximately the same time difference of the first day and these riders can be very proud of finishing the two days of racing and representing their universities with gusto.
In the women’s division the Maties blitzed the track and while it was still close at the second waterpoint 25kms in, they eventually finished in a time of 03:10:26, which was nearly eight minutes better than the chasing UP-Tuks.
Frankie du Toit and Nicky Gilliomee finished their two days of racing in a time of 05:49:05, which saw the Maties claim the title for the second consecutive year. Michelle Benson and Melanie Roux, the Tuks women’s riders who crossed together, very nearly broke the six-hour mark and will know what is expected should they return in 2018. The NWU team of Ernestine Safar, Nicolene Marais and Kristen Louw struggled slightly on Day Two, but considering it was their debut they will also be very content with their bronze-medal finish.
Varsity Sports MTB Final Standings:
By Dorfling Terblanche