Power Bar 1 first home in 230km race
First- timer Lourens Luus teamed up with old hand Billy Stelling to successful effect as the PowerBar 1 pairing rode to Trans Baviaans victory on Saturday evening.
The race was the first of two weekends of Trans Baviaans action and joining Luus and Stelling on the top step of the podium were Yolandi de Villiers, Johan Labuschagne and Neill Ungerer, of Ultimate Cycling TBC, in the mixed category and Theresa Ralph and Amy McDougall, of Galileo Risk Valencia in the women’s category.
The 230km race started at 10am in Willowmore on Saturday morning. A steady early pace was set by the ASG Best-Med teams, with Labuschagne and Ungerer also doing turns on the front.
The expected tailwind failed to materialise and instead a slight headwind kept the lead bunch together until around the 80km mark when the jockeying for positions heading into Checkpoint 2, at 104km, started.
At Checkpoint 2 the experience started to show for teams like Ultimate Cycling TDC as they navigated the potentially confusing checkpoint zones where riders had to check in, fill bottles, stock up on nutrition, collect essentials for the next leg and check out again in good time.
Stelling and Luus had clearly planned their checkpoint strategy and managed to minimise their time off the road.
Heading into the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve the race started to splinter as first the Frangs and then The Mother of All Climbs (The MAC) took their toll.
Upfront Stelling and Luus were joined by the Altech-Autopage duo of Pieter Seyffert and Hanco Kachelhoffer.
Behind them the leading mixed team of De Villiers, Labuschagne and Ungerer were riding with the third-placed men’s team of Steven Shirley and Juan-Pierre Minnie riding as Team On Your Bike. A little further back the race for second in the mixed category was hotting up as the RMB Change A Life duo of Martin Dreyer and Jeannie Bomford had caught the Merrell Mixed trio of Craig Boyes, Timo Cooper and Nicky Gillomee.
Stelling appeared to be struggling up The MAC, so Seyffert and Kachelhoffer attacked in the final phases of the climb to claim the PowerBar King of the Mountain prize.
However, the four leaders all missed the Bergplaas checkpoint at the crest of the climb and had to track back, nullifying their 20 second lead.
The first woman to crest The MAC and claim the PowerBar Queen of the Mountain was the high flying De Villiers.
Descending the Big Dipper, Seyffert and Kachelhoffer again pulled ahead of Stelling and Luus, but Luus dug deep when they reached the kloof below to rejoin the leaders.
For the next 50km Luus sat at the front of the lead group, setting a steady pace, while Stelling recovered on the back of the group.
Heading up the Never Ender climb the race for outright victory appeared to enter a stalemate.
The decisive move came at the self-service Checkpoint 6. Stelling passed the checkpoint tag to Luus and while the stronger Luus stopped to tag the PowerBar 1 team in, Stelling continued up the road.
The Altech-Autopage team stopped together, but when Luus sped away from the checkpoint to catch Stelling they were unable to close the gap. Despite having nearly 40km to race Stelling and Luus managed to hang on – and extend their lead when Seyffert and Kachelhoffer eased off the pace once it became clear the pursuit was futile.
With the first of the two Trans Baviaans events wrapped-up the attention now shifts to the second one this weekend.