It was all maroon as both the men’s and women’s teams of the University of Stellenbosch crossed the line first on Day One of the Varsity Sports MTB race in Franschhoek on Saturday morning.
The route was 50km long and had 1 500m of vertical ascent, starting and finishing at the breathtaking Nederburg wine farm.
With waterpoints at 12km, 26km and 36km the riders were well looked after and the second waterpoint saw the men from Maties and UCT neck and neck, with the Tuks men being only two minutes behind the leaders.
By the third waterpoint the Maties had stuck together as a trio while the leading UCT riders were still chasing hard, not giving an inch.
The Maties duo of Tristan de Lange and Rinus Maarsingh were first over the finish line with a time of 02:08:17 and just a minute later they were followed by UCT’s Alexander Rohrer and Luke Evans in a time of 02:09:31, setting up a mouthwatering finish on Day Two.
The UP-Tuks team of Edwill O’Neill, William Mokgopo and Felix Manke crossed together in a time of 02:13:01, keeping touch with the leaders and showing great camaraderie by finishing as a unit.
NWU men crossed in a time of 02:25:03 and the Madibaz men wrapped up the day’s Varsity Sports MTB racing by finishing their race in 02:33:11.
The Madibaz men were closely followed by the Maties women as Frankie du Toit and Nicky Gilliomee scorched the track in a time of 2:38:39, showing that they are not easily going to give up their title from 2016.
Melanie Roux and Michelle Benson, riding as the UP-Tuks women’s team, were a few minutes behind and finished in 2:42:40, and will have to work hard to narrow the gap to possibly grab the title from Maties.
The NWU women made a solid debut in the competition and their time of 2:49:42 is very respectable, considering they made their first appearance at the event.
Day Two will see the riders cover 58km while doing 1 600m of climbing, which will test their resolve as much as their fitness. With the gap between the two leaders in the men’s category being so small, both teams will want to start strongly and get one over their traditional intervarsity rivals while the Tuks women know anything can happen on the route and they will chase the women ladies hard.
Varsity Sports MTB Standings after Day One:
By Dorfling Terblanche