The urban energy of Melrose Arch provided a sophisticated backdrop for the pre-race festivities at the exclusive Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c, which got underway on Thursday, April 28.
The registration for this elite mountain bike race was hosted by the retro-chic Protea Hotel Fire and Ice, which saw national sporting celebrities like Gerald de Kock and cricketer Jacques Rudolph rubbing shoulders with Tour de France commentator Phil Liggett.
Then it was on to the excitement of the compulsory race briefing in The Piazza that evening, where the riders enjoyed their last taste of chic city wining and dining before the following day’s le grand départ.
“Melrose Arch was an outstanding venue choice for our preliminary celebrations,” said organiser Craig Wapnick. “Our hosts pulled out all the stops and the evening was a huge success.”
It would be the last time organisers and riders would experience the luxury of a warm bed and cosmopolitan culture for nine days.
Leaving the glitz of Sandton behind, the 220 two-man teams headed south from Heidelberg on Friday, April 29, and crossed the breathtaking rural heart of South Africa to finish 911 kilometres later in Scottburgh on the KwaZulu-Natal coast on May 7.
Billed as a journey of the soul, the race – which offered a prize purse of R300 000 – attracted both ordinary riders out for the adventure of a lifetime and top professionals.
The elite men’s race was won by Malcolm Lange’s new off-road pairing of Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock (RE:CM) in a total time of 34:20:18.
They were followed by former national cross country titleholder Brandon Stewart and his SA road champion partner Darren Lill (FedGroup Berg and Bush) with Max Knox and Rwandan team-mate Adrien Niyonshuti (MTN-DoItNow) completing the podium.
Ischen Stopforth and the Brit Catherine Williamson (Team bizhub) achieved a decisive victory in the women’s category with an overall time of 40:45:34.
In the mixed, honeymooners Erik and Ariane Kleinhans (Fairbairn Capital) remained unbeaten throughout for an aggregate time of 38:41:50.
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Protea Hotel Fire and Ice at Melrose Arch played host to the Fairbairn Capital/Old Mutual joBerg2c registration day and many of the mountain bikers enjoyed its retro-chic comforts before taking on the nine-day journey the following day. Photo: Kelvin Trautman | mediaandkelvin.com
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