Justin van der Linde and Albertus Jooste, of Rustenburg, were crowned overall winners of the Liberty TransCape MTB Encounter when they won the 70km final stage from Grabouw to Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands today.
The pair were competing in the race for the second time and began the last day of the 591km, seven-stage mountain-bike race with a handy cushion.
They completed a successful week by crossing the finish line at Holden Manz Wine Estate in 3:38:33, being followed by Dirk Haentzschel and Mario Hakim Abu-Id. Australians Damien Ingram and Stuart Cathcart completed the podium.
Van der Linde and Jooste had an overall time of 26:42:42, with Ingram and Cathcart in second place. Filling third spot were Haentzschel and Abu-Id.
Having no great expectations coming into the race, Van der Linde said they had reassessed their strategy after winning the second stage.
“We built up quite a nice lead so we then decided to try to protect that,” he said.
“We began to ride a bit more strategically and did not always go at full throttle.”
Van der Linde said they almost came unstuck on stage five when a crash in the peloton saw him suffer a damaged back wheel, which set them back.
“But we managed to get going again and lost only about nine minutes.”
In today’s final stage, he said they rode in the bunch until they were able to break away up Franschhoek Pass.
Besides taking the honours, Van der Linde said it had been “another brilliant experience”.
“The venues and the hospitality were so good and the off-the-bike experience makes this race tremendous value for money.”
Germany’s Udo Mueller retained his solo category title he won at the first attempt last year, finishing today’s stage in 3:26:29. He was followed home by compatriot Stefan Hackl and South African Jan Braai.
He said it had been another memorable experience.
“The spirit of the race and the chance to mix with the other riders at the post-stage functions really makes this event very special.
“And then you also have the experience of riding the beautiful trails through the Western Cape.”
The German said he would definitely be urging his cycling friends to experience the high-quality event the race organisers offer.