Johannesburg - Former winner Waylon Woolcock and partner Darren Lill fired a warning shot at race leaders Johann Rabie and Gawie Combrinck when they claimed a second stage victory on day five of the Old Mutual joBerg2c mountain bike race on Tuesday.
Woolcock and Lill, riding in the colours of Cannondale-Blend, attacked three-quarters into the 98km stage between Winterton and Kamberg in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands to leave their opponents in their dusty wake.
They stormed into the finish at Glengarry Resort in three hours 44 minutes 22 seconds, with Rabie and Combrinck (EAI Cycling) following two minutes and 27 seconds later.
Rabie and Combrinck (20:33:42) saw their overall lead of more than six minutes slashed to three minutes and 48 seconds over Woolcock and Lill (20:37:30).
Kevin Evans and Max Knox (FedGroup-Itec) finished third in 3:48:54 and remain in the same position in the general classification (20:53:37).
Woolcock, who won in 2012 alongside Neil MacDonald, said he was very pleased with his team's result after his struggle the previous day.
"I felt a bit better today but I'm not where I'd like to be yet. Going into the stage, we knew that a six-minute deficit was quite a big gap for a fast race like joBerg2c."
With the major climbs of the day only looming after the 50km mark, he said the elite field had stayed together most of the way.
Woolcock and Lill, a former national road champion, decided to test their rivals on the climb out of Zulu Waters Game Reserve, which led up to waterpoint two at 70km.
"I set quite a steady tempo up the climb. Darren [Lill] let me go for a bit and then he jumped across and from there we just drove it to the finish."
He said the move had splintered the lead bunch and that it had been a hard day's riding all round as they headed out of the thornveld towards the Drakensberg.
Woolcock said Wednesday's 91km sixth stage to Hazeldean farm near Underberg would be another challenging one.
"We've now closed the gap [to Rabie and Combrinck] to a more manageable one but we'll see what happens tomorrow. Hopefully my legs are slowly returning."
In the mixed category, it was a two-horse race between the Sasol Racing pairs of Yolande de Villiers and Franso Steyn, and Leana de Jager and Johan Labuschagne.
With Biogen Toyota's David Cooke -- one half of the overnight leaders --withdrawing with a broken collarbone, the teammates were left to duke it out among themselves.
Steyn said he and De Villiers had attacked early on and built up an early advantage.
"We then had a mechanical problem and they closed the gap, but we attacked again. It worked for us. We went ahead of them after the second waterpoint and just kept on pedalling."
De Villiers and Steyn took the stage win in 4:03:16 and with it the top spot in the overall standings (22:01:20).
De Jager and Labuschagne followed in 4:07:00 (22:12:18), with Bikefreak Magazine's Katja Cauwenbergh and Ken van den Bulke third in 4:22:15.
Janine King and Amy McDougall of Valencia Girls continued their total dominance of the women's race.
The duo claimed the stage in 4:26:37 (23:31:52), ahead of Sarah van Heerden and Brenda Potts of Old Mutual, who finished in 4:45:48 (24:51:22).
The 880km stage race finishes in Scottburgh on Saturday.
Results from the fifth stage of the Old Mutual joberg2sea mountain bike event on Tuesday
1. Waylon Woolcock & Darren Lill (Cannondale-Blend) 3:44:22
2. Johann Rabie & Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) 3:46:49
3. Max Knox & Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec) 3:48:54
4. Louis-Bresler Knipe & Craig Boyes (Contego) 3:49:12
5. Hanco Kachelhoffer & Chris Wolhuter (Karan Beef) 3:55:34
1. Janine King & Amy McDougall (Valencia Girls) 4:26:37
2. Sarah van Heerden & Brenda Potts (Old Mutual Girlz) 4:45:48
3. Heidi Buttiens & Siegrid van Bever (Reevax Ladies) 5:18:40
1. Yolande de Villiers & Franso Steyn (Sasol Racing Mixed) 4:03:16
2. Leana de Jager & Johan Labuschagne (Sasol Racing) 4:07:00
3. Katja Cauwenbergh & Ken van den Bulke (Bikefreak Magazine) 4:22:15
4. Alison Richardson & Rob Dormehl (Avis Van Rental) 4:26:47
5. Sue Smith & Cas van Aardenne (Dynamic Duo) 4:34:28
1. Johann Rabie & Gawie Combrinck (EAI Cycling) 20:33:42
2. Waylon Woolcock & Darren Lill (Cannondale-Blend) 20:37:30
3. Max Knox & Kevin Evans (FedGroup-Itec) 20:53:37
1. Janine King & Amy McDougall (Valencia Girls) 23:31:52
2. Sarah van Heerden & Brenda Potts (Old Mutual Girlz) 24:51:22
3. Heidi Buttiens & Siegrid van Bever (Reevax Ladies) 26:58:17
1. Yolande de Villiers & Franso Steyn (Sasol Racing) 22:01:20
2. Leana de Jager & Johan Labuschagne (Sasol Racing) 22:12:18
3. Alison Richardson & Rob Dormehl (Avis Van Rental) 24:02:51