Nearly 4,000 riders competed in the first major sporting event of the 2016 Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival this morning - the MTB events of the Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour.
Marketing Director for the race, Andrew Finn said that conditions for the race were perfect for mountain bikers. “It was slippery and muddy because of all the rain we had yesterday, and I think that is why times were not as fast as last year.”
Riders set off in clear but chilly conditions from 08:00 this morning when the gun was fired by Knysna Executive Mayor, Georlene Wolmarans, but the sun shone through a cloudy sky and there was no rain.
First over the line in the main event of the day, the 80 km MTB, was HB Kruger in 03:01:50. A sprint over the line saw Waylon Woolcock finish second (03:01:51) and Matthew Beers third in a split second time difference. (Last year’s winner, Matthys Beukes finished in a course record of 02:52:12.)
Speaking after the race, Kruger said that conditions were quite technical. “It was very muddy, and I had actually deflated my tyres too much and had to stop to bomb them to get the pressure up again. But it was a nice route and a good challenge.”
Kruger, who races professionally for Team Telkom, established a lead from the start in a group with five other riders. “I was with my team member Johann Rabie, and Matt Beers, Waylon Woolcock, Renay Groustra (King of the Mountain) and James Tennant for the first 30 km. Then James and Renay dropped back a little and coming into the finish it was myself, Waylon and Matt. I knew I had a bit of a kick and with my road background I was able to get a good sprint to the finish.”
This was Kruger’s first Knysna Cycle Tour race and he will be racing again tomorrow in the 115 km road race with Telkom Team members Nolan Hoffman and Reynard Butler, who were first and second in last year’s race.
Ladies Elite winner Yolande de Villiers agrees that the route was “slippery, and very wet. I’m usually sick at Oyster Festival time so I’m very glad I was able to ride this year. It’s a challenging course, starting with the steep climbs up the Simola and Gouna hills and this year there was a new section near the end with lots of single track. It was awesome. I really enjoyed the race.”
De Villiers beat Samantha Sanders by two seconds in a time of 03:24:26. Third lady over the line was Carmen Buchacher with a time of 03:31:06.
Carel Bosman, Sponsorships Manager for Momentum, one of the two naming sponsors of the cycle tour, said that he was delighted with the event. “I was particularly pleased to see so many moms and dads riding with their children today. Momentum is very much about families and it’s great to see them enjoying and participating in the events together. I was also delighted that the numbers of young development cyclists have increased this year to about 100, with 50 percent of these coming from Knysna. The Oyster Festival is about giving back to the local community and assisting development cyclists is a great way to do this.”
All provisional MTB race results are available on the website, oyster.events.
Tomorrow the Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour presented by Rotary road races take place with the first start at 08:00 am.