Nico Pfitzenmaier and Robyn de Groot demonstrated their technical skills on the wet and slippery trails through the Harkerville forest on Monday en route to the overall solo titles in the three-day RECM Knysna 200.
Former masters world cross-country champion Pfitzenmaier (Dorma) also showed his sportsmanship when runner-up Dylan Rebello (Jeep) slipped in the finishing straight of the 58km final stage at Thesen Harbour Town.
The Cape Town-based rider waited for his local rival to right himself before the two crossed the line together to give Pfitzenmaier his second stage win.
The German-born champ, who won the team category last year with Renay Groustra, said he was delighted to have followed it up with the solo title.
“Each of the three routes have been changed and improved from last year, so it’s good that the organisers keep things interesting and different,” he said.
“There’s so much single-track that you can link up, which makes the riding so exciting out here.”
Despite puncturing in the closing kilometres, Hanco Kachelhoffer and Colin Noel (Altech Autopage) took their third consecutive stage for a dominant overall victory in the team category.
Kachelhoffer, who recently relocated to George, said the trails and atmosphere had been top notch.
“I think a lot more pro riders will come to race this one after seeing James Reid and I fight it out for king of the mountains yesterday. It’s exciting racing.”
Despite lingering health concerns, three-time South African marathon champion De Groot (Ascendis Health) kept it together to secure an uncontested win in the women’s category.
“It’s the first time I’ve done this race but it’s definitely one to add to the calendar,” said De Groot, who divides her time between Johannesburg and the Garden Route town of George.
“It was harder than I expected but a real treat. You just can’t compare the forest trails to anywhere else in the country.”
The Merrell Ladies’ pairing of Nicola Giliomee and Marleen Lourens won the women’s team category, while their mixed teammates Andrea and Steven Shirley were not quite so lucky.
After two stage wins, the husband-and-wife team lost their overall lead on the final day, gifting SasolRacing’s Yolande and Henties de Villiers the mixed race title.
“We were just here to enjoy ourselves, so this win is fantastic,” said Yolande, who also won the Ultimate Queen hill climb up to Krisjan se Nek on stage two.
“It was a privilege to be able to share it with my husband, who is usually behind the scenes. This is payback for everything he does.”
Guillamme Liebenberg won the R50 000 worth of unit trusts sponsored by RECM, R20 000 of which will be donated to the Knysna Sport School.
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