Zoutkloof - In an exciting end sprint Joep van Bakel and Keith Moule outsprinted race leaders Graeme Solomon and Adrian Boros to take the tough third Berg River Canoe Marathon stage win at Zoutkloof on Friday, but it leaves Solomon and Boros holding all the cards overall.
In a massed start all the batch started together at Bridgetown staring down 76 gruelling kilometers and following the portage over the Misverstand dam wall the first and second teams got ahead and stayed ahead through to the end sprint.
It was another cat and mouse stage with the chasers knowing that a nothing short of a miracle would get them back into contention with over ten minutes the difference at the start of the day. Despite that Moule and Van Bakel fought hard and tried to shrug off the leaders, however the experience of Solomon and the power of Boros kept the quartet together throughout.
"We knew that ten minutes was going to be close to impossible to overturn so we just focused on winning the stage and we are happy that we managed to do that," the smiling Van Bakel said.
"It was important that we still stayed with them today because we knew that if we made an error and let Adrian pull Graeme away then it was definitely over for us!
"We did have one issue at a tree block when I lost my hat and had to get it back! I didn't want to lose it! But we managed to get back after that."
The tactics of Team Bamboo Warehouse were straight forward and they knew that the pressure was completely on the shoulders of the chasing pair so if they could maintain a steady pace throughout then they would hold all the cards going into the final stage.
"Yesterday was a hard stage for us and we really pushed ourselves to the limit and so today we decided that we didn't want to do anything more than we had to," Solomon mentioned.
"We just tried to stay with the bunch and let them try and make all of the breaks and take all the chances. We didn't want to extend ourselves too much today; we just wanted to get to the end feeling good."
A first win in 17 years is on the horizon for Solomon following a record tally of second and third places finishes. The thought of being a two-time Berg champion, as well as the first team champion put a small smile on the face of the 45 year-old.
"It is exciting to be this close! It's been a long time coming," said Solomon.
"I just feel really privileged to be able to still be doing this at my age and it's really cool that I can still race with these young guys and still enjoy it."
Boros showed his steel in 2017 when he won the overall Berg title and knows that the third stage packs a considerable punch.
"This final ten kays into the finish was tough but I still felt strong at the end for the sprint but we are happy that we still have such a good lead," Boros said.
The exciting race was the tussle for third where Jermaine Pietersen and Anders Hart went out hard to cancel out the six second advantage that Gavin White and Bartho Visser had gained over the first two days.
Pietersen and Hart put the hammer down but late issues for the pair saw White and Visser claw back three minutes to set up an enthralling end sprint.
With a hundred metre to go Hart turned to partner Pietersen to instruct him to put in a hard pull, however he missed a paddle stroke and capsized, which handed third to White and Visser and giving them valuable time to bank going into the final stage.
The new mixed team event was turned on its head when Bianca Beavitt was left to continue solo after her partner Crispin Thompson had to withdraw from the race due to illness at the portage around Misverstand dam wall, fifteen kilometres into the third stage.
That vaults Lisa Scott and Kevin Bouwer into the top position in the mixed team event.
The age group contests were similar to the first two days with the Change a Life Capensis team of Mthobisi Cele and Mpilo Zondi retaining their lead in the Under 23 showdown while the impressive Under 18 pair of Melvino Klaase and Angelo Smith are twelfth overall and first in the juniors.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS - Berg River Canoe Marathon Stage Three
1.Graeme Solomon/Adrian Boros (Team Bamboo Warehouse) 5:38:34 12:36:47
2.Keith Moule/Joep van Bakel 5:38:33 12:47:02
3.Gavin White/Bartho Visser 5:49:46 13:11:42
4.Anders Hart/Jermaine Pietersen 5:51:23 13:13:24
5.Daan du Toit/Gert van Deventer 5:51:54 13:26:11
6.Greg van Heerden/Anthony Wostenholm 5:51:53 13:27:32
7.John de Villiers/Heinrich Schloms 5:54:56 13:29:12
8.Mthobisi Cele/Mpilo Zondi (U23) (Capensis) 6:08:42 13:42:31
9.Chris de Waal/Roy Clegg 5:54:55 13:42:52
10.Loveday Zondi/Richard Cele 6:13:40 13:56:58
1.Mthobisi Cele/Mpilo Zondi (Capensis) 6:08:42 13:42:31
1.Melvino Klaase/Angelo Smith 6:18:18 14:13:04