Top teams keep unbeaten records intact after day 5

24 April 2018

Stage five of the Old Mutual joBerg2c was more of the same with the dormakaba Mixed Team, the NAD Pro pairing and solo rider Matthys Beukes dominating their respective categories and on Tuesday each claimed their fourth category win from four racing stages to remain unbeaten.

The 122km stage from Winterton to Nottingham Road was the longest of the race and contained the most climbing. Although the entire field – from race leaders all the way through to the struggling backmarkers – found Tuesday’s stage gruelling in the heat, the category leaders were a step above their opposition once again.

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The race leaders power out of Em’seni and on to Nottingham Road

In the Amabokkebokkie Global Mixed Champs the dormakaba pair of Amy McDougall and Arno du Toit powered away over the final 20 kilometres to extend their overall lead by another four minutes – even though the race did not develop anything like they planned.

The two, who have taken on the personas of a pair of smiling assassins for the way they are happily destroying all their opposition, are now almost 12 minutes clear of their nearest chasers, the Team Summit duo of Darren and Candice Lill.

“We were all together until ‘Three Sisters’ with about 15 kays to go,” said Arno du Toit after finishing the gruelling stage. “Yesterday we decided today’s stage does not suit us so we thought we thought we would sort of watch the race and see how it developed and ride defensively. But then I got excited on the long gravel road …” he said with a smile that almost matched the permanent grin of his partner. “And Amy grabbed my pocket and off we went!”

Despite the win and the smiles, McDougall was quick to point out that the stage was not easy.

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Before the major climbs, there were some stunning descents

“As Arno said, I just grabbed on to his pocket and I just followed. It is awesome – Arno is so strong he pulled me just about the entire final 20 kays. As we keep saying, we will take each day as it comes. Anything can happen and we cannot get comfortable, but the bigger buffer we get the better.”

In the men’s race, the appropriately named “Big Rise” climb proved decisive with the stage-winning break coming as the NAD Pro pair of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck surged up the long drag and simply rode their opponents off their wheel.

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The ‘Big Rise’ pushed riders to their limits on day five

“We set the pace at the bottom of the long climb,” said Bell. “Gawie then came through and increased the pace a bit, and then I went a little harder and we had a split at the top. Then we just rolled on to the finish. Matthys was with us and he sat on our wheel so as not to interfere with the racing.

“We are still going for stage wins so we are also trying to conserve as much as we can as well. In the beginning we try and sit on the wheels, but the other guys do not want to roll through so we end up doing most of the work.

“That means we might as well ride away so at least when the two of us are rolling through together we are riding away and winning the stage. If the other guys don’t want to work and if they are going to be all negative, we are not going to give them a stage win.”

In the race for second in the men’s team event, the Silverback Best4Sports team of Shaun-Nick Bester and Declan Sidey fought back after they were the third team to the top of Big Rise.

Sidey was struggling early on the climb and it looked certain Alan Gordon and Timothy Hammond (Insect Science) would increase their advantage in the close fight for second overall. However, the Silverback duo clawed back onto the wheels of Insect Science on the undulating district roads after Big Rise and eventually won the sprint for second.

Insect Science are now 17 minutes behind the leaders and two minutes up on Silverback.

Beukes was the only rider to stay close to the two NAD Pro riders and he quickly caught them again just after the top of Big Rise. That meant the PYGA Eurosteel rider was able to enjoy the district roads into the finish to finish third overall and extend his GC lead over teammate Phillimon Sebona to 20 minutes on the solo men’s class.

For the back markers the day proved to be daunting despite the long neutral zone which gave riders 21km of “free riding” as they cruised from the overnight camp at Em’seni to the times start at Winterton. The daunting factor was the searing heat. With no wind to cool the riders on the long climbs which littered the route, there were lots of tired riders struggling into the overnight stop at Clifton Prep School late into the afternoon.

Watch the footage from Day 5 here and Kevin Sawyer’s images here.