After losing 45 minutes to Team bizhub’s Ischen Stopforth and Marcel Deacon on the opening day, the Toyota-Cycle Lab mixed pairing of Johan Labuschagne and Yolande de Villiers bounced back strongly to win the second stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek mountain bike tour on Tuesday.

Labuschagne, from Centurion, and De Villiers, from Oudtshoorn, crossed the line in four hours 57 minutes and 42 seconds to finish the testing 110 kilometres between Mossel Bay and George four minutes ahead of Swiss duo Patrick Griessen and Ariane Luthi (Sputnik-Bikeshop). Oudtshoorn’s Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo 1) were third.

Stopforth and Deacon, who hail from George, showed the after-affects of the tough first stage – which traced much of the feared Attakwas’ route and featured 2 820 metres of elevation – to place fourth, almost 12 minutes off the pace.

“To be honest, I was quite exhausted after the first day,” said Stopforth, the outgoing MTN Series champion. “Our plan was to stay with the other top teams until at least the last third of the stage and then reassess our tactics.”

With little to lose, Labuschagne and De Villiers – who fell victim to mechanical problems the previous day – went hard from the start on another scorching day.

“We were initially lying in second until the Swiss team caught us,” explained Stopforth. “At that point my legs weren’t in great shape and we couldn’t keep pace with them.”

The Barnards, who were second overall at the start of the day, reeled them in at the second water point after 62km and, unable to match their rhythm, the bizhub pair had to settle for fourth in Mossel Bay.

Wednesday’s third stage stretches over 106km between George and De Rust with 2 450m of elevation and is widely regarded as the second harshest of the event.

“We’re preparing ourselves for another tough day in the saddle. We’re only two minutes behind in the overall standings and still well in the game,” said Stopforth, who is renowned for her prowess in energy-sapping events such as these.

After two stages, DCM 3’s Max Knox and Thomas Zahnd (10:07:41) lead the men’s section ahead of MTN-Energade’s Kevin Evans and Adrien Niyonshuti (10:13:17). DCM 2’s Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Brandon Stewart (10:22:11) are third.

In the women’s race, Ride For Hearing’s Nathalie Schneitter and Renate Telser (13:12:55) have built up a comfortable lead ahead of Team Aspen’s Robyn Adendorff and Sarah van Heerden (13:52:56) with Swiss Ladies’ Doris Arnold and Nina Gunter-Tschanz (15:50:38) third.

Meanwhile, Team bizhub’s Yolandi du Toit – who is fresh off her victory in the final leg of the MTN Series – paired up with Mr Price Specialized’s Caitlin de Wet to place second in the three-stage Isuzu 3 Towers mountain bike race in Mpumalanga over the weekend.

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