There was a change in the Varsity MTB men’s pecking order thanks to the UCT pair of Richard Simpson and Michael Lambrecht claiming Stage 2 on Tuesday.
The locals crossed the finish line at Oak Valley Estate after 65km out-and-back in a time of 02:54.54,7 to overhaul the Tuks pair of Antonie Joubert and Andries Nigrini and take the race lead with one stage remaining.
“I think today suited as better as it was a lot more punchy with all the single track and we’re punchy riders,” Lambrecht said shortly after finishing.
Simpson was quick to add how local knowledge played a role too: “Because of the races around here you ride the single track quite often, so we knew where we were most of the day which was quite nice.”
Having started the stage some 30 seconds behind the Joubert and Nigrini, the UCT team knew they would have to test the resolve of their northern rivals – who admitted on Monday that they were mountain bike stage race novices.
“We went hard at the beginning,” Lambrecht revealed. “Then, once we got the gap, we stayed on the gas but I think we kept it within ourselves until the end – though the last climb was very hard!”
By the second water point at Paul Cluver Wines (where the flowing single tracks which give FNB Wines2Whales day two its ‘Play Day’ moniker start), UCT had eked out a 55 second lead over Tuks, with Madibaz, Maties, NWU and TUT following one by one behind the leading pair.
That then went out to almost three minutes at Water Point 3, at Thandi Wines, and the six-plus-minute margin at the finish. The Tuks pair admitted after they finished that they were close to their limit all day and, as a result, Simpson and Lambrecht have a significant margin to hold into through the final stage of Varsity MTB 2019 – from Oak Valley to Onrus Campsite – on Wednesday. They plan to “see how it goes”.
“We haven’t really talked about it and I’ve never done tomorrow… so I don’t know what to expect, but I’ve heard good things,” Lambrecht admitted.
VARSITY MTB STAGE 1 RESULTS – MEN
1. Richard Simpson & Michael Lambrecht (UCT) 02:54.54,7
2. Andries Nigrini & Antonie Joubert (Tuks) 03:01.00,0
3. Michael Sutton & Morné Hollander (Maties) 03:24.06,8
4. Jan Venter & Munro Munnik (Madibaz) 03:25.22,6
5. Brendan van Eeden & Christo Botes (NWU) 03:43.04,6
6. Vian Pretorius & Shaun-Cameron Swanepoel (TUT) 03:58.51,9
Follow race updates via @VarsitySportsSA on social media. For full results, visit www.wines2whales.com/riders/results-archive/.