Cape Town - Quickest out of the blocks
on the early Botmaskop climb out of Stellenbosch, Waylon Woolcock and HB Kruger
stamped their mark on the opening stage of the three-day Liberty Winelands
Encounter on Friday.
Although the BCX pair were
pushed at times, they eventually got away about midway through the stage to take
the top spot on the podium after finishing the 54km course to Franschhoek in
Andrew Hill and Marco
Joubert (TIB Insurance-Momsen Valley Light) followed them home in 2:14:52, with
Jurgens Uys and Nicol Carstens (Versus Socks) third in 2:16:50.
Although Woolcock, from
Stellenbosch, and Kruger, from nearby Paarl, are riding the race for the first
time, they said they were familiar with the area.
Not even a slight spill by
Woolcock could derail their winning effort as they exerted the pressure from
the outset and never relinquished their lead.
“We spoke about it before
the start and knew we had to make an effort on the first climb,” said Woolcock.
“I also know that section very well so our plan was always to try to get away
He said the dry conditions
made the route tricky at certain sections and they had to keep their
concentration throughout the stage.
“When I did lose a bit of
concentration I had a slight front wheel drift and ‘bought a small plot’, but
no major damage was done,” said Woolcock.
“The handlebars were
slightly skew, but I managed to straighten them a bit on the fly and then, when
we got to a tar section, I took time to loosen a bolt and straighten them
After the early climb,
Woolcock said Uys and Carstens came back at them, something the third-placed
pair repeated after the leaders made a surge on a second ascent.
“They came back at us on
the single-track but I know how things turn out because although we were both
putting in a big effort, they were riding five per cent harder just to get back
“We were riding tempo and
actually saving energy.
“Once we exited Boschendal
on the mountain side towards the Rupert’s L’Ormirans Wine Farm, they held on
for a few kilometres before we broke away again and kept the gap until the
Woolcock said Kruger also
had a “little play in the dust” but from then on they rode at an even pace and
tried to avoid any serious crashes or mechanicals.
“We took the single-track
steadily because it is so dry that even though you know the trails it’s very
unpredictable. You can come around a corner and the trail can crumble
Despite their three-minute
lead, Woolcock said they would not be thinking too far ahead, particularly
given the quality of the opposition.
“We can’t relax at any
stage and our opponents are the types of riders who will be on our heels to
make the best of any slip-up. You can never count anything out in mountain
In the women’s race, Swedish
Cape Epic champion Jennie Stenerhag and her South African partner Katie Lennard
(Cape Brewing Company) took a firm grip on proceedings by finishing the stage
This gives them a decisive
lead over Jana Kruger and Ilse Viljoen (Companero), who filled second spot in
Riding the race for the
first time, Stenerhag said they broke away early on and built up a sizeable
“It was a very good day
and we rode steadily after getting away from the start,” she said.
“The stage was a really
good challenge, especially the early climb up to Skyfall when you can
definitely feel it in your legs.
“After that it was nice
and we felt good throughout as we raced our own race.”
The mixed category is led
by Corne Barnard and Vera Adrian (dormakaba RA), who finished the stage in
2:27:15, followed by Matthew Stamatis and Carmen Buchacher (Home Ice Cream) in
TransCape men’s champion
Pieter Seyffert and An-Li Kachelhoffer (Bestmed-Ellsworth-ASG) were third in
Saturday's second stage
will cover a distance of 54km from Franschhoek to Wellington.