The new professional team of Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker claimed their fifth stage victory as the TransCape mountain bike race paid tribute to former British road champion Sharon Laws, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer late last year. Organisers ASG Events dubbed the top of the day's major climb, Rusty Gate, as the Sharon Laws Summit to honour the 42-year-old double Cape Epic champion. Seyffert said going up Rusty Gate, which greeted participants on the penultimate stage of the seven-day event, it had been windless and hot. "I wouldn't exactly call it magic, but it was one of those climbs where the view is overwhelming when you get to the top. Looking down into the valley from that height is definitely worth all the suffering." On the 68km route from Greyton to Villiersdorp, which included the 6km Rusty Gate climb and the new Greyton Black single-track segment, the Ellsworth-ASG outfit of Seyffert and Walker were back in their normal position at the front after conceding the stage win on Thursday. The South Africans crossed the line in 3:07:14 for an overall time of 23:41:47, followed by yesterday's winners, Belgians Eddy Feliers and Kristof de Neys of Cicero Baik, in 3:39:09 (25:25:35). Grabbing the final podium spot on the day in 3:45:40 were RR's Rodney Stroud and Ryan Loots, but the Bromance pairing of David and William Wertheim Aymes, who finished in 3:58:47, remain in third overall (26:07:24). With tomorrow's final stage between Villiersdorp and La Couronne Wine Estate in Franschhoek looming, Seyffert and Walker are firmly on track for the top spot on the podium and should be able to enjoy the final run-in to the Western Cape town. "Today we actually started quite quickly from the gun and Travis was unbelievably strong the whole day," said the 30-year-old Seyffert, who lives in Helderkruin on the West Rand. "Almost immediately after the start we went into quite a technical single-track section, followed by another . . .
Belgian Eddy Feliers celebrated his 49th birthday in style as he and teammate Kristof de Neys took the stage win on the fifth day of the TransCape mountain bike race between Swellendam and Greyton today. Riding for Cicero Baik, the European pair led the bunch home for their first stage win in this year's 690km event, which started in Knysna on Sunday. Today's route of 112.5km with about 1 500m of ascent saw comfortable overall leaders Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker of Ellsworth-ASG take their feet off the pedals somewhat to follow the Belgians over the line. Feliers and De Neys crossed the line in 4:14:14 to maintain the second fastest overall time of 21:46:26, while the race leaders came home in 4:14:21 (20:34:33). In third place on the day in 4:21:25 were the RR pair of Ryan Loots and Rodney Stroud. However, the Bromance team of William and David Wertheim Aymes remained third overall on 22:08:37. The 25-year-old Walker, from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal, said they had decided to take it slightly easier after winning the first four stages and building up a sizeable lead. "It was also nice to honour Eddy on his birthday and we spent quite a bit of time with a bunch of riders and enjoyed interacting with them." He said the route for the day was fairly straightforward on the country roads, although there were some rough sections with corrugations. "It was also quite warm today so we have had some real contrast in the weather - two rainy days and three hot days. "After starting with the bunch we got away at about 30km, but at waterpoint one there were a group of guys just off the back of us and slowly catching up." Walker said they stopped at the waterpoints where the bunch would, at times, go ahead of them. "We would then work hard to catch up with what became a big bunch towards the end, with Eddy and Kristof leading us home." The KZN rider said he and the 30-year-old Seyffert, from Helderkruin on the West Rand, were benefiting a . . .
Capetonian Billy Stelling forged ahead on a muddy day in the TransCape mountain bike race to win his third stage on the trot and don the leader's jersey in the men's solo category today. Overnight rain turned the 103km fourth stage between Riversdal and Swellendam in the Western Cape into a ride that Stelling described as "very difficult" afterwards. The peloton, who will arrive at La Couronne Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Saturday after seven days and 690km of gruelling racing, faced the added challenge of almost 2 000m of ascent. The 47-year-old defending champion from Sea Point, who is competing with a broken rib that saw him start the race gingerly, finished the stage in 4:41:35 for an overall time of 17:50:09. Belgian Karl Dossche, who led since winning the opening stage, came home second in 4:52:25 (17:51:41) to drop one spot in the standings. He was followed by Alan Tilling in 4:56:56 (18:15:38), who remains in third overall. Stelling said he rode the last 55km on his own after pulling away from a bunch on the climb at Grootvadersbosch Conservancy. "I was riding with the front team (Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker) for a while, but then I stopped to clean my bike in some water and waited for a group behind me. "I rode with them for a while until they fell off a bit on a big climb and I was on my own from there until the end." Because of the conditions, Stelling said he did not set himself any specific goals for the stage, choosing merely to take it section by section. "The roads were very slippery and you couldn't ride on the side, while the middle was a fine, powdery mud. "It is difficult in those conditions because the bike doesn't function properly and you can't ride as you would normally do. "Whenever I got to some water I used it to clean my bike and it would stay clean for about a kilometre. So mentally and physically it was hard." Although he is in the lead, Stelling said his only objective was to take it one day . . .
Despite riding with a broken rib, defending men's solo champion Billy Stelling won his second stage in a row on the third day of the TransCape mountain bike race between Van Wyksdorp and Riversdal in the Western Cape today. After the lengthy 135km queen stage yesterday, it was a slightly shorter challenge as the field continued their seven-day, 690km journey from Knysna to Franschhoek. The 47-year-old Stelling, who is from Sea Point in Cape Town, completed the 81km in 3:09:12 to move into second overall on an aggregate time of 13:08:34. Belgian Karl Dossche held on to his overall lead after finishing second on the day in 3:19:38 (12:59:16). Third went to Willem Tollig in 3:19:53, but Alan Tilling's ride of 3:26:02 (13:18:42) keeps him in third overall. Stelling injured his rib last Monday in an incident while moving house and said he almost did not make it to the start line. "However, I decided I would ride and have been taking a cocktail of tablets to manage the pain," he said. "On the first day I just rode with a couple of mates and took it easy, but yesterday, because of the longer stage, I got into a faster group. "Even though I have not set myself a goal, today I wanted to race a bit harder as well." Stelling said he would not put any pressure on himself and would just take it day by day to see how it all panned out. "The rib was a bit sore initially, but I have managed to alleviate the pain somewhat and it's not feeling as bad as on the opening stage." Stelling described the TransCape as a "brilliant journey". "It is one of the top three races in my book. The atmosphere is great, the accommodation is fantastic and the food is brilliant. "I ride mountain bike races for the soulful experience and the vibe on this one is up there with the best." Overnight leaders in the men's team category, Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker, raced to their third consecutive stage victory in 2:54:56 (11:45:06) to consolidate their position . . .
After a rainy opening stage, riders were presented with different conditions today as pace-setters Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker consolidated their overall lead in the TransCape mountain bike race. The Ellsworth-ASG duo led the field home for the second consecutive day after a typically hot and dusty Karoo leg between George and Van Wyksdorp. They completed the 135km queen stage - the longest of the seven-day event - in 5:30:24 to lead the standings with a combined time of 8:50:10. Belgians Eddy Feliers and Kristof de Neys (Cicero Baik) hung on to their second place overall after placing second on the stage in 5:40:42 for a total time of 9:23:25. They were chased all the way home by David and William Wertheim Aymes (Bromance), who stopped the clock on 5:45:12 to remain in third overall on 9:27:55. After creating a decent buffer on the opening stage, the 30-year-old Seyffert from Helderkruin on the West Rand said they had planned to ride within themselves on the second day. However, his younger partner could not contain his competitive juices and they quickly opened up a gap on Montagu Pass where the gradient kicks up to 14 per cent in places. "Although the intention was to take it slightly easier, I got a bit excited going up Montagu Pass," admitted the 25-year-old Walker from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal. "Going up the pass the breeze was into us, so climbing was a bit slower than usual. About halfway up I rode to the front and from there we were by ourselves for the rest of the stage." Tongue firmly in his cheek, Seyffert said he would speak to the organisers about the pace his partner was setting and for "always putting me in the hurt box". "Jokes aside, he's an awesome teammate, waiting for me on all the climbs. He rides from the front most of the way and I'm learning to pull myself inside out to keep up with him." Seyffert, who will target the Cycling South Africa-sanctioned Bestmed Tour of Good Hope road race in the Cape . . .
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Despite wet conditions, Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker kicked off their new partnership on a perfect note by winning the opening stage of the seven-day TransCape mountain bike race today. The Ellsworth-ASG duo took control early on to cover the tough 80km ride between Knysna and Wilderness in the Western Cape in 3:19:46. They were followed home by Belgians Eddy Feliers and Kristof de Neys (Cicero Baik) in 3:42:42, with David and William Wertheim Aymes (Bromance) crossing the line in third in 3:42:43. Their commanding performance on a day that took in almost 1 600m of vertical climbing will see the South African pro outfit take a handy buffer into tomorrow's queen stage. Seyffert, who hails from Helderkruin on the West Rand, said their sizeable lead would allow them the luxury of not having to make the racing on tomorrow's stage, which is the longest of this year's event. He said they were building towards next month's Bestmed Tour of Good Hope in the Cape Winelands and were delighted with their debut outing. "This is our first race together and it will be a good test to see what I have to do as Travis's partner for upcoming stage races," said the 30-year-old. "I have a feeling we will be pretty good together. We have had a great start and will build on that as we learn from each other." After some heavy overnight showers, the riders faced a gentle drizzle through much of the stage, which took in sections of the well-known Seven Passes road - including Phantom Pass early on. Walker, who had recently returned to SA after racing in Europe, said while the weather made the route more treacherous in places, there was a positive side as well. "The rain can be good and bad," said the 25-year-old, who has settled in Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal. "The roads were quite gravelly and sandy, so the rain meant they were not that slippery and there was no dust from any vehicles going past. "I don't really mind the drizzle as I prefer it cooler than . . .
Primarily a mountain biker, Swiss ace Christoph Sauser is ready to make an impact when he competes in the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope cycling race from March 6 to 10. The triple world marathon and five-time Cape Epic champion will compete in the country's premier road tour for Investec-Songo-Specialized and is eager to reap the benefits of the 490km journey through the Cape Winelands. There is, he said, much to appreciate about the Tour of Good Hope, which is presented by Scicon and the City of Drakenstein and sanctioned by Cycling South Africa. "I love to race in the beautiful Western Cape and there is the speed effect when you ride with a bunch on fast wheels," he said. "Also, it is so well organised and I'm already looking forward to it." Sauser said the Bestmed Tour of Good Hope played an essential part in his preparations as it helped him to work on his speed. "Nothing beats riding in a bunch at 40km/h at a high cadence. It is very good to have this stimulation which you would never get in training." The 40-year-old said that although they essentially a team of mountain bikers, they had riders who could climb and sprint as well. "I'm not quite sure about the tactics, but we will have a lot of fire power. "We will play it day by day, but it would be nice to win a stage or two again as we did last year with Sam Gaze." The latter won last year's queen stage - mountain-top finish on Du Toitskloof Pass - before going on to win the U23 world cross country title in the Czech Republic. Sauser said his personal goal was to do well on the same stage this year. He will be supported by Gaze, Simon Andreassen, Konny Looser, Matt Beers, Craig Boyes and Paolo Montoya. The 2000 Olympic cross-country bronze medallist, who is based in the small mountain town of Yvorne in Switzerland, announced his retirement from the sport last year. However, he could not resist making a comeback when a request came from 2012 Olympic cross country champion . . .
After a lengthy association with Hanco Kachelhoffer, mountain biking professional Pieter Seyffert will reveal a new partnership when he and Travis Walker tackle the seven-day TransCape mountain bike race from Sunday. In his first appearance at the TransCape, the 30-year-old said he was looking forward to teaming up with Walker under the Ellsworth-ASG banner for the 690km journey between Knysna and Franschhoek in the Western Cape. Seyffert said he and Walker - who recently returned to South Africa after racing in Italy - had both been looking for team-mates after his long-time partner Hanco Kachelhoffer retired following their victory in the Sanlam MTB Invitational in November last year. "This is a new combination and we have never raced together," said Seyffert, who hails from Helderkruin on the West Rand. "In fact, I don't think I have even raced against him. "Travis is from a cross country background and I come from a road cycling background, so it will be interesting to see how we pair up. The TransCape will provide a good guideline for us." Seyffert said he had spent the last two years focusing on improving his technical skills and added he was confident he had made a successful transition to mountain biking. Although he will be new to the TransCape, which is presented by ASG Events, Seyffert said he was familiar with the terrain, having ridden in most of the areas the route will cover. "There is a real buzz and sense of expectancy in the mountain biking community around TransCape. "Because of the exceptional organisation and the special trails many riders expect the event to surpass the current offerings on the mountain bike stage race scene in South Africa. "So, of course, I can't wait to experience it." He added that their goal was to "definitely go for the overall win", but that they would take things one day at a time. "As with any stage race your equipment has to be reliable and if you don't get a puncture and don't . . .
The TransCape MTB race organisers will pioneer a fresh single-track challenge by introducing the riders to the Greyton Black section in the multi-stage race beginning on Sunday. Positioned on the penultimate stage on the stretch between Greyton and Genadendal, route director Wayne Collett said the TransCape would be the first to use "this spectacular new section", which extended the famous route network in the region. "It is destined to become one of the most unique and spectacular single-track sections in the country," said Collett as he assessed the stages for the seven-day, 650km journey from Knysna to Franschhoek. He warned riders to ensure their technical skills were up to scratch as the 5km segment would test them to the full. "It is by far the most technical section," he said. "I don't want to make anyone nervous, but if you think the TransCape is about wide open spaces, think again. "This one is up in the hills and you need to know what you are doing, although it's not that long - only about 5km." While Collett and his team have introduced a number of changes designed to improve the experience for the riders, he said the Greyton Black single-track was the most significant addition. "People will spend a lot more time on that section now. What used to take you five minutes now requires about 45 minutes." Besides the Greyton Black, Collett said there would be plenty to capture the riders' attention during the seven days through one of the country's most celebrated mountain biking regions. Naturally, he added, the queen stage would come as an early examination, confronting the riders on the second day. "Firstly, it's the distance of 135km and secondly it is the stage with the most climbing. "There is over 2 000m of ascent, including one of the bigger climbs on the TransCape in the Montagu Pass, which comes at the beginning." Collett said a third factor which came into play was the heat and he warned riders to ensure they were . . .