Yolandi du Toit and Lise Olivier of Team bizhub made a clean sweep of the eight timed stages to win the women’s section of the inaugural Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c paired mountain bike race by the proverbial country mile in Scottburgh on Saturday.
The twosome – who finished third in the recent Subaru sani2c – completed the nine-day, 923km ordeal between Johannesburg and the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast in 45 hours 16 minutes and 50 seconds, more than two hours faster than their closest opponents.
Catherine Roberts and Marleen Lourens (Ducky Muds) were second, with Leanne Lange and Brenda Potts (Team Medscheme) completing the podium.
Veterans Andrew McLean and Shan Wilson (Toyota Cycle Lab) recorded the fastest overall time of 38:22:42.
“For many reasons, this is one of the most important wins of my career,” said Du Toit, who replaced team-mate Ischen Stopforth a mere two days before the race started. “To be honest, I didn’t think it would be this hard.”
Du Toit (24) said she and Olivier (26) both experienced one “bad” day during the tour, but they were able to nurse each other to the finish on each occasion. “That’s what team riding is all about.
“One’s body goes through many ups and downs during a race like this and it is the teams who are able to adapt the best that come out on top. The secret of a fast time is how well the stronger rider on the day can look after the weaker one.”
Du Toit said although the first day (121km between Suikerbosrand and Frankfort) was a neutral and therefore untimed stage due to the crossing of the Vaal River, it did a lot of damage and contributed greatly to the outcome of the race.
“Large stretches were over grasslands, which were very bumpy and energy-sapping. For me, it was one of the toughest days.”
The former Pick ’n Pay 94.7 Cycle Challenge champion was full of compliments for her less experienced team-mate. “She is a very consistent rider, which is exactly what you want in a race like this.”
Du Toit said the first three days were a shock to their systems due to the wet conditions. “Although the stages became slightly less demanding after that, your body gets more and more tired as you go along and in the end it becomes a battle of wills.”
The Team bizhub duo is scheduled to take part in the 75km Karkloof Classic in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday.
Stopforth, who withdrew from the joBerg2c due to illness, meanwhile won the three-day Klein Karoo Classic in Calitzdorp over the weekend. She finished first in all three stages en route to a fifth place overall.
The reigning MTN Series champion will now focus on preparing for the Amarider 100 Miler in Durbanville on May 22 as she continues her comeback from a broken collarbone and cracked pelvis.
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