Kevin Evans and David George (360Life) continued their total domination of local mountain bike racing on Monday by winning the opening stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek. It was the pair’s third major victory in 15 days.
Their winning spree began when Evans won the MTN Ride Crater Cruise. By finishing third in the same race, George made sure that he could claim the title of overall winner of the MTN ultra-marathon series.
This past weekend George won the Seweweekspoort race with Evans finishing second.
But their hunger to excel is still not quenched. The emphatic way in which they won the first stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek, is prove of this.
Evans and George; Christoph Sauser (Specialized) and Max Knox (Ghost); Adrien Niyonshuti and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka); Neil MacDonald and Waylon Woolcock (RE:CM) were racing in a group until the first serious climb, which led up to the king of the mountain prime.
But the moment Evans and George accelerated on the climb, the proverbial ‘pawpaw’ hit the fan. Sauser and Knox; Niyonshuti and Janse van Rensburg tried valiantly to keep up, but it was to no avail.
Evans and George increased their lead with each pedal stroke to win the stage from Oudtshoorn to Calitzdorp (107km) in 4:12:20.
Ben-Melt Swanepoel and Nico Bell (Team Without Sponsor) were second in 4:18:05 and Niyonshuti and Janse van Rensburg third in 4:18:54.
However, the main conversation topic afterwards was the comedy of errors which saw Sauser, the world marathon champion, and Knox, last year’s overall winner lose time to their rivals.
Everything started to go wrong for the star pairing when Knox, who had already fallen behind on the climb, had to stop to fix a puncture. While Sauser was waiting for Knox to do the necessary repair work, he decided to use the time to clean his sunglasses. This turned out to be a big mistake, because he did not notice when Knox came riding past him.
The second fiasco occurred when Sauser decided to set off racing again. He missed a marker which led to him taking a short cut. Then, while waiting for Knox at a water point, he realized that Knox might be waiting for him somewhere else.
When he backtracked on the route, he found that Knox was, as expected, waiting somewhere else. But still it was not the end of their troubles. A few kilometres further on, Sauser punctured., which resulted in losing more minutes.
Knox was quite philosophical about the way his defence of the title went awry.
“This is mountain biking. Last year I had the near perfect race. I did not have to stop once to fix a puncture or do any other mechanical repair work. We also did not crash or get lost.
“This time my luck has changed and I have to deal with it.”
In spite of their six-minute lead, Evans and George refuse to take anything for granted.
“It would be foolish to think that we have won the tour on the first day. There are still five days of racing left and in mountain biking anything can happen at any moment.
“The good thing about our six-minute lead is that we now have a buffer on the other teams. If something should go wrong, we would not be under immediate pressure,” George explained.