UCT weathered rain, mud and hail at the finish to claim stage one of Varsity MTB on Monday.
The pair of Courteney Webb and Amy Tait arrived at Oak Valley Estate in Elgin in a time of 03:41.10, well ahead of their neighbours Catherine Pellow-Jarmain and Susan Kruger of Maties whose 57km journey from Lourensford Wine Estate in Somerset West took them 03:52.42. The Tuks pair of Tanya Kotze and Michelle Benson rounded off the women’s podium when they came home in 04:03.26.
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.
“It was quite tough out there, a bit muddy but we just kept our pace and kept it going… consistency was key,” said Amy Tait while escaping a burst of hail under a marquee at Oak Valley.
With the driving rain, the portage section on the rocks up Gantouw Pass was always going to be the trickiest part of the stage. Having established a lead already, the UCT women chose to be extra cautious.
“It was quite hectic, it felt like we were on a kayak race not a bike race but it was definitely worth it when we got to the top,” revealed Courteney Webb.
In the build-up to this year’s Varsity MTB, Webb had spoken about the lack of intel on the other participating teams which is why they came up with a gameplan.
“What we had decided, because we didn’t know the field and how strong everybody else was, was to go at our own pace on the first climb and see how it went,” Tait revealed.
“We seemed to open up quite a gap from the beginning of it, so we were surprised. It’s still only the first day, though, so we’ll see!”
Better weather is predicted for Tuesday’s Stage 2, which will be an out-and-back from Oak Valley. It is traditionally dubbed ‘Play Day’ because it features sublime singletrack, manicured berms and mind-blowing descents within the 64km.
VARSITY MTB STAGE 1 RESULTS – WOMEN
1. Courteney Webb & Amy Tait (UCT) 03:41.10
2. Catherine Pellow-Jarmain & Susan Kruger (Maties) 03:52.42
3. Tanya Kotze & Michelle Benson (Tuks) 04:03.26
4. Jean-Marie Roelofse & Stacey Hyslop (Madibaz) 04:08.32
5. Nicolene Marais & Ané Jacobs (NWU) 05:06.33