MTN Series champion Ischen Stopforth’s last-minute withdrawal from the Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c has forced Team bizhub to revert to a familiar back-up plan for the nine-day paired mountain bike race that starts at Suikerbosrand near Johannesburg on Friday.

Stopforth and the relatively inexperienced Lise Olivier were originally penned down for the inaugural event, but the former was replaced by team management on Wednesday as a precautionary measure after being bed-ridden with a fever for most of the week.

She will be replaced by the in-form Yolandi du Toit, who partnered Olivier to a podium finish at the Subaru sani2c earlier this season. On that occasion, Olivier stood in for Stopforth who was recovering from a broken collarbone.

“I feel terrible for Ischen’s sake. She is such a wonderful athlete, but her whole season has been plagued by misfortune,” Du Toit said on Thursday while frantically rushing around town to get her affairs in order.

“I guess fate has once again brought me and Lise together. At least we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses this time around and I’m sure we’ll have a good ride.”

Du Toit – who beat both Stopforth and Olivier en route to an excellent third place in Clarens last Saturday and then finished in the front group in the Lions Wilro 100 the following day – said it was difficult to predict “anything” ahead of the race.

“It’s a new event for everyone so nobody knows what to expect. To be honest, I haven’t even had time to have a proper look at the route profile. I’m sure it will become very tough as we approach the Drakensberg.”

However, having finished on the podium in a major event at their first attempt, Du Toit said it was only natural to expect and pursue another top placing. The final three days of the joBerg2c is a repeat of the earlier race and they have already proved themselves on that terrain.

The lanky Du Toit said although the race was not on her original racing schedule, she was very happy and excited to get a chance to participate in the first edition.

“It’s always nice to grow with an event. This year’s experience will stand us in good stead for following editions and will give us a platform for comparison.”

The race covers a total distance of 923km between Johannesburg and Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast with 12 875m of elevation.

Issued by:

Full Stop Communications

Coetzee Gouws
041 368 4992
082 575 7991

On behalf of:

Team bizhub