The BCX rider was fresh from a win in the Liberty Winelands Encounter, alongside teammate HB Kruger, which ended in Wellington on April 23.
In the first men’s marathon race of the series, a lead group of six formed early on, comprising Team Spur’s Alan Hatherly, Ascendis Health’s Gert Heyns, Woolcock, Red-E Cannondale’s Matt Beers, Kruger and Momsen Bikes’ Marco Joubert.
Hatherly, Beers and Heyns were the aggressors and the pace they set soon saw their rivals drop off as they charged clear on the 68km route.
But the unexpectedly hot conditions began to take their toll and with 20km remaining, Woolcock reeled the leaders in and focussed his efforts on maintaining his lead until the finish, even opting to skip a waterpoint, despite having no water.
“I was too afraid to stop at a waterpoint because when you’re leading you never know what the gaps are like behind you. I’m really happy to take the win against quite a classy field,” said Woolcock.
He rolled across the finish line in 2:56:02. Joubert claimed the runner-up spot a minute and a half later, with Heyns rounding out the podium in 2:59:10.
“I made the race a bit harder for myself when I clipped a rock and damaged a pedal,” said Woolcock.
“That saw me struggle on the single-track. Luckily the last half of the race had less single-track so I was able to keep a good rhythm.”
Joubert found the race quite brutal and said that Hatherly, Beers and Heyns set a hard pace from the start.
“The last 20km the heat started to affect all of us. Then it was a battle for survival and to see who could last. Luckily I managed to hold off Gert and Alan and get second place, but Waylon was just too strong and deserved the win,” said Joubert.
Woolcock and Kruger will be chasing the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek title when the three-day mountain bike race kicks off in Addo, in the Eastern Cape, on May 26.
In the women’s race, CBC/Abro’s Jennie Stenerhag and Team dormakaba’s Vera Adrian, set the pace from the outset.
They were locked together for more than half of the race with Stenerhag doing most of the pace-setting. But at 40km Adrian stopped to fill a bottle and Stenerhag pushed on, creating the race-deciding split.
“It was quite a hard race and the heat made it even harder,” said Stenerhag.
“The route was quite hilly and there was wind, so the conditions were tough. Vera stopped at a waterpoint and I just went through. Then I never saw her again for the rest of the race. I’m very happy with the win.”