Cape Town - A day of incident-filled racing
ended with South African duo Matt Beers and Wessel Botha (Team NAD) overcoming
two punctures to finish Stage 1 of the FNB Wines2Whales Shiraz with a healthy
lead of nearly three minutes.
Beers and his 19-year-old partner
had to chase back and catch Under-23 cross country world champion Alan
Hatherly of South Africa and his Danish team-mate, former Junior World
Champion Simon Andreassen (Spur Specialized), over the last quarter of the
67km mountain bike course.
Beers said afterwards that he had
flatted on a section of gravel road about halfway through the ride and before
the compulsory portage of more than a kilometre up the Gantouw Pass.
plugged it and got back to Alan and Simon on the portage, but just before the
tech zone (at Water Point 3 on 50km) the plug came out again.”
At the tech zone they swapped
wheel and began chasing after
Hatherly and Andreassen, who had left the water point nearly a
“We saw them in the distance and I
could see that Alan’s lights were going out,” said Beers. The lanky South African said “Alan never ever
but was following Andreassen
through the trails and falling back - a sure sign that he was in
“I also know that he comes alive
again after about 10 minutes so I said to Wessel ‘we must go now’.”
Hatherly was struggling with a
and said that Andreassen was “very
patient when the lights went out”.
“I felt good on the portage up
Gantouw Pass. I trained for it so the run was not that bad, but I think the
headwind on the A2Z (trails immediately after the pass) got the best of me.”
Beers and Botha pushed hard for
the finish and the youngster said afterwards: “When Matt said we had to go I
had to dig deep, but fortunately we got away.”
They swept across the line in 2 hours and 56 minutes with Hatherly and Andreassen 2:56 behind them.
“We just had to work through (the
bad patch) to minimise damage. I came back a couple of kilometres from the
said Hatherly afterwards.
Andreassen said he had struggled a
little bit with the pace early on after a long season but then got into his
“The trails were really cool ... I
like loose corners and sandy stuff,” said
Riders had to overcome a strong
headwind and some dusty conditions, but all were complimentary about the
course and the trails.
It was a good day for NAD, with
their second team of Nico Bell and Gawie Combrinck coming home third 6:24 behind the leaders.
“I struggled up the first climb
but from there it was better,” said
“I’m really happy that Matt and Wessel took the win today.”
Arno du Toit and Tim Hammond (SPOT
Africa) finished fourth, eight minutes behind the leaders and Belgian
mountain biker Frans Claes and road rider Jasper Stuyven - who
finished fifth at the Paris Roubaix classic this year - another 16
seconds back in fifth.
“I was quite ill two weeks ago,” said Claes.
“Today I still felt it and in the second half
I was nearly dying.”
He added that Stuyven, not being a
mountain biker, struggled a bit on the trails: “On the singletracks we lost a
few seconds and had to fight back, which also made it tough.”
The relatively short and fast
stages on the Wines2Whales mean that it is unlikely the leading two teams
will be caught.
However, Saturday’s Stage 2 around Grabouw and Elgin should
suit the cross country skills of Hatherly and Andreassen and give them an
opportunity to close the gap on the leaders before Sunday’s final stage to
As Hatherly said at the finish:
“There’s still two days of racing ... it’s
not over until it is over.”
Wines2Whales Results | Shiraz
General Classification after Stage 1:
1. Team NAD (Matthew Beers, Wessel
2. Spur Specialized (Alan Hatherly,
Simon Andreassen) 2:58.56,9
3. Team NAD 2 (Nico Bell, Gawie
4. SPOT Africa (Arrno du Toit,
Timothy Hammond) 3:03.59,3
5. Waypoint Leuven (Frans Claes,
Jasper Stuyven) 3:04.17,6