The New Africa Developments (NAD) team set a hot pace through the tough conditions of the Gondwana Nature Reserve as they detected some vulnerability in overall race leader Erik Kleinhans.
Bell and Combrinck splintered the relatively large front pack by the halfway mark and crossed the finish line in a time of 3:42:48.
The Estonian pair of Peeter Pruus and Peeter Tarvis (KOMO/RWV) came in second just over a minute later, with Konny Looser and Daniel Gathof (Cape Brewing Co Elite) third in 3:48:11.
Overnight leaders Kleinhans and Matt Beers (Full Sus/Topeak Ergon/Red-E) finished in 10th place in 4:01:03.
“Just before 50km, we saw Erik (Kleinhans) was taking a bit of strain in the single-track,” said Bell.
“We increased the pace on the climb and managed to get a gap. The Estonian guys went with us but the terrain was rough and they struggled to stay with us. We kept on pushing from there.”
“We weren’t expecting a stage win so early on, but we are really stoked. Having the yellow jersey is going make the rest of the week more of a challenge.”
Cherie Redeker and Mariske Strauss of the OMX Pro team extended their lead in the women’s race with a stage win in 4:26:35.
They were followed home by Yolandi du Toit and Aurelie Halbwachs (Garmin) in 4:29:36, with Leana de Jager and Catherine Williamson (Klein Karoo Ladies) third in 4:47:36.
In the mixed race, Yolande de Villiers and Neill Ungerer (Ultimate Cycling) took the stage honours to extend their overnight lead over runners-up, Kobus and Fienie Barnard, who led for most of the way.
In the veteran men’s division, Fanie Venter and Igna de Villiers (LGE Midas/Business Print) took the overall lead after winning the stage ahead of Belgian duo Wim Tollenaere and Hans Planckaert (De Fietser Rotwild Zaes).
Overnight leaders Iniel Hattingh and Vickus Boschoff (Klein Karoo Ko-OP) finished third on the stage and slipped to third overall.
The masters race saw prologue winners Linus van Onselen and Izak Visagie coming home a comfortable 23 minutes ahead of Italian Pitstop duo Niccolo Violati and Roberto Gallo to take a commanding lead into stage 2.
Jiri Krivanek of the Czech Republic won the solo men’s race stage to take the overall lead, while South African Nicky Giliomee extended her overnight lead in the women’s race by finishing over 16 minutes ahead of runner-up Sabine Stampf.
Tuesday’s stage, dubbed #DiazDash, is expected to be tough. The 99km leg from Mossel Bay to George includes a 7km section along the beach before the riders head inland thorough the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains. The total ascent is 2 200 metres.
For more results, news and photos, see Cape Pioneer Trek.