Mountain bikers began a surreal seven-day journey in Mossel Bay for the highly anticipated Momentum Health Cape Pioneer Trek presented by Biogen. The event kicked off with the popular #PointPursuit Prologue where riders were put through their paces on the cliff-hugging trails of St.Blaize.
It was a flying start for Team Galileo Risk’s Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill in their quest to upset Dormakaba , the pre race favourites. Despite the blistering temperature in Mossel Bay, the pair set the fastest women’s elite time of 00:30:53. “This course really suited my explosive riding style – Theresa had to hold me back at some points so we could save energy for the stages to come! We can sense there’s going to be some close racing ahead – just the way we like it,” said Hill.
In second place was the Seattle Coffee Ladies team made up of Nicky Giliomee and Cherise Willeit. Giliomee has an interesting past at the Cape Pioneer Trek after being unable to finish on her last attempt, and has made it clear that she is out for retribution. It was a disappointing start to the event for the experienced Team Dormakaba pair, Samantha Sanders and Amy McDougall. About 5km’s into the technical route their race came to a abrupt halt when Sanders hit a rock that caused a puncture. Unperturbed by the incident, Sanders commented, “There are still long stages ahead, and at the end of the day it’s about whoever rides the smartest race.”
UCI elite women
1. Theresa Ralph & Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk-Liv) 30:53 2. Nicky Giliomee & Cherise Willeit (Seattle Coffee Lovers) 36:51 3. Samantha Sanders & Amy McDougall (dormakaba Ladies) 38:45 4. Janine Muller & Mari du Toit (Oakley 3) 47:29
The second stage of the 2019 Momentum Health Cape Pioneer presented by Biogen saw riders take the plunge into the wild side of the Southern Cape.
Often described as the ‘Prince Stage’, the once familiar trails in and around Mossel Bay have seen a complete overhaul for this year's race. True to the spirit of adventure that the event evokes, the route traversed the untouched heart of Gondwana Game Farm where spectators included herds of springbok and other roaming antelope.
The fight for early dominance in the women’s elite field was just as fierce. After suffering from a mechanical in the Prologue, the Dormakaba pairing of Sam Sanders and Amy McDougall made it clear that they were out for redemption.
For the majority of the route they lurked in the slipstream of the GC leaders Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk - Liv), waiting for the right time to make an attack. Dormakaba finally pounced when Hill and Ralph got an unfortunate puncture.
It wasn’t long before the leading pack was reunited, however, as a determined Ralph and Hill made their epic comeback. In a final sprint for the finish line it was Sanders and McDougall that took today's stage honours. The Galileo Risk – Liv team will be satisfied, however, having done enough to defend the top step overall. “We would have liked to have made up the time from yesterday, but Thersa and Sarah were very strong today. It’s going to be a tight race from here, but that’s what makes it all exciting,” said Sanders.
UCI elite women
1. Samantha Sanders & Amy McDougall (dormakaba Ladies) 4:34:36 2. Theresa Ralph & Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk-Liv) 4:34:37 3. Nicky Giliomee & Cherise Willeit (Seattle Coffee Lovers) 5:07:35
General Classification after Stage 1
UCI elite women
1. Theresa Ralph & Sarah Hill (Galileo Risk-Liv) 5:05:30 2. Samantha Sanders & Amy McDougall (dormakaba Ladies) 5:13:21 3. Nicky Giliomee & Cherise Willeit (Seattle Coffee Lovers) 5:44:26
Image by the team from www.zcmc.co.za