Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph, who won the women’s race at last year’s joBerg2c, will again test their boundaries as a team when this year’s edition of the nine-day, 900km stage race starts on Friday near Heidelberg.
“We hope to come out with the same results as last year except with faster times,” said Hill, referring to the 38:49:31 overall time they achieved in 2018.
“I have so much more experience on my back going into this year and I plan to race with the same level of prestige that my partner brings to every single race.”
The Galileo Risk rider said last year they used joBerg2c to prepare for this year’s Cape Epic, in which the pair ultimately won the African jersey.
“We wanted to test my body’s ability to go hard day after day. The experience was enlightening and I really used all that I learnt this year while competing for the jersey.
“I grew in resilience and patience. I learnt how to pace myself and accept times when the legs just didn’t want to respond. I also discovered the body’s ability to bounce back.
“Theresa and I had such an incredible joBerg2c last year and we plan to replicate the experience.”
Hill said after long chats on the bike about their individual reasons for riding and racing, they had decided to approach joBerg2c with the same fighting and competitive spirit that drove them to perform.
“We thrive on going fast, going hard and discovering new strengths day after day.
“The joBerg2c is now known for being the Mixed Team World Championships and as tempting as it was to join in the fun, Theresa and I are trying to grow our own image, along with our influence on women’s racing.
“I can’t emphasize enough the power of two women racing together. The encouragement, sense of achievement and personal growth that you go through just cannot be experienced any other way. Theresa and I are going out to race as fast as we can.”
Ralph added that they wanted to show all the women out there that it could be done and that they should come and race.
“Let’s bring the category back strongly. It would be lovely to see many more teams out there,” Ralph said.
The 25-year-old Hill said strategy-wise they wanted to be on pace with the mixed teams and believed they were fast enough to race with most of them.
“We want to use it to push our limits further and see it as an opportunity to learn more about how we behave as a team, especially when we are on the rivet.”
Hill felt joBerg2c was an opportunity for her to work on her weaknesses as a rider.
“It’s not often that we can go out and focus on a component of our racing that needs work. The long, hard, flat[tish] stages are something that I’m still and probably will forever be working on.
“It’s tough for my enthusiastic XC legs to condition themselves to pedal for so long. [By contrast] my diesel-engine partner Theresa loves this kind of terrain and thrives on digging deep for extended periods. I love being in this situation where I can practise digging deep and learning once again from the experienced racers surrounding me.”
She added that a lot of joBerg2c would be Ralph’s strength and she would do everything she could to keep Hill on her tail.
“As soon as the trail narrows and we see twisty turns, it’s my turn to pick the smooth, safe lines, and keep our pace up despite the technical terrain that lies ahead. Theresa and I love combining forces and working together to be as fast as we possibly can.”
Ralph added that the longer stages suited her well as she was fast on the flats.
“I haven’t looked at the stages too closely, but I know the first three are pretty fast and suit my type of riding. Then we hit the sani2c and Berg & Bush type of trails where Sarah’s strengths will shine through.”