• Venue: Breedekloof / Goudini Spa
  • Date: 5-7 May 2017
  • Distance: 186km
  • Climbing: 3300m
  • Position: 1st (2 stage wins)
  • Time: 7h57

Two weekends in a row, two hidden gems! Thank you Iqela Events for the invite and another well organised event. Most striking I could not believe the amazing trails all over the Breedekloof! Even though we had to start and often finish the stages with some sandy roads through the vineyards, it was nothing compared to some great fun on the bikes!

Like the end of last year, I teamed up again with Red-E racer, Matt Beers for the third edition of the Gravel and Grape. We stayed in the Goudini Spa Chalets which made logistics so easy with all the stages starting and finishing at the venue, except for the start of the first day which was hardly a 40-minute commute away on the bike (or you could take a shuttle).

Matt and I had our fair share of problems with thorns causing having with our tires on stage one costing us some time to inflate and having to chase back. A crash and a broken sale on day two had us chasing again after searching for missing parts. But we managed to get the win on both those stages! The last day was full of amazing trails and we rode it a little more easy with second place finishers, Robert and CP from Breedenet, and gifted them the stage win at the end.

A lovely weekend of racing! Nice to take the overall victory! Now off to the Tour de Braai!

Pictures | Chris Hitchcock

 

  • Venue: George - Swellendam
  • Date: 8-12 May 2017
  • Distance: 400km
  • Climbing: 6000m
  • Position: Social
  • Time: 20h00

What an incredible week! Some experiences just make me feel alive, and this is as good as it gets! The Tour de Braai had it all, the food was great with some of the best braiders and chefs making our tastebuds work overtime. The Karoo in all its splendour and open spaces. Getting my Canyon semi-gravel-bike ready for the adventure was part of the journey, as well as the strict dress code made you feel like you are part of the early Tour de France legends. The riding was no work in the park, with Jan Braai making sure Leonardo and I chase every Strava segment that comes our way.

Thank you Jan Braai and Dave Moseley for making sure I take part in one hell of an adventure! All the other riders for making me enjoy every pedal stroke of the way. The crew for a relaxed and smooth event, and oh-my-incredible-greatness, everyone for the laughs!

Pictures | Craig Koleski

  • Venue: Clanwilliam - Kaleo
  • Date: 23 April 2017
  • Distance: 160km
  • Climbing: 3070m
  • Position: 1st
  • Time: 6h36

Every so often you get a weekend where everything just feel so perfect! A lot probably to do that I've always been a nature-man that likes to get outside and experience small little towns, heartwarming people and the Cederberg Wilderness Area are one of the most perfect spots for that.

It was great to have the Krieks join for the weekend, Carel to drive taxi and support, while Christiaan threw himself in the game to try and finish this bad-boy! We've done many mtb tours and trips like this together when Christiaan was still racing, and their companionship has always been so relaxing as we all love the same things and crave the same experiences out of these journeys: good people, good coffee, gravel roads, open spaces, braai, padstal and much laughter.

I've had my time as a lap-racer, now I am a marathon racer. 100-Mile racing might be right at the end of the scale of what I am willing to push at the moment, but with our National Marathon series barely over 60km these days, I became eager to look for some new challenges and really happy for events like the Masgcor Cederberg 100-miler on our race calendar. Thank you Iqela Events for a well organised race and for a reason to visit the lovely town of Clanwilliam and the Cederberg.

This is a special race! Many of you would know the route through the Cederberg Mountains since it is a favourite destination for getaway weekend vibes. From Clanwilliam it is all the way uphill from the coastal side to Uitkyk-Pass at 1000m, then the short side of the Kromrivier Pass before the Grootrivierhoogte Pass that looks incredibly daunting when spotted from a distance and the Blinkberg Pass heading out of the Cederberg to the Koue Bokkeveld. Pointing the front tyre towards the finish at Kaleo Farm, the last 60-kilometers of flat riding was the toughest, a mind game to keep on going in the heat, constant pedalling and that damn ever annoying slight headwind. 

This race is a challenge! A great goal for a mountain biker. Maybe try it out in the 2-day Trek option first, sold out this year, so make sure you get your entry fast!

On the racing front it seemed as if I was the only serious rider who wanted to start of a bit more cautiously, but luckily I'm not scared of a sufferfest! Chris Cronje tried a murderous early break which lasted the first two hours, while triathlete, Jean de Villiers, and Charles Mcfall kept me company longest before riding the second half of the race on my own. Well, by that time everyone was on a solo mission to get to a CBC beer at Kaleo as soon as possible! 6h36 for me to conquer the Cederberg, with Jean in second and Chris in third.

Route  | Strava

Pictures  |  Sam Clarke

  • Venue: Stilbaai
  • Date: 15 April 2017
  • Distance: 61km
  • Climbing: 900m
  • Position: 1st
  • Time: 2h21

Three weeks after the Cape Epic and for me it somehow always seems to take rather long to get the body going again (or mind...). So packing the Subaru and heading to Stilbaai had a duel purpose, even though it is 300km away, the Amana Properties Stilbaai MTB Challenge was the closest CSA sanctioned race to Stellenbosch and it just so happened to be in this relaxed holiday town over a long weekend so there can be some quality relaxing before the training/racing get a bit more serious again.

I love doing these smaller events! Since our arrival it felt like we were just accepted into the Stilbaai family with everybody giving advice regarding where to eat, where to ride and what to do for entertainment over the weekend. The race village was so simple but it felt so comfortable with a beer garden, some stalls where PVB Knives in particular caught my attention making knives from recycled steel and beautiful wood so I had to purchase a souvenir, a family making pancakes to pay for their son's University fees, a school making burgers and hotdogs still priced liked the good old days at R15 each and a few more.

The racing was surprisingly tough... CP van Wyk, Stellenbosch student and rider for Team Mad Macs / Hazz lined up next to me so it was clear from the start there will be some hard pedal strokes, and the route was either on smooth district roads or really rough, sandy and rocky fynbos terrain. Man, it was proper hard during certain sections that the fast district roads were a real blessing! But it kept us on our toes. CP and I rode together for most of the way, but I just managed to build a gap on the toughest hill of the day to win by a bit more than 2-minutes. Yet another fellow Stellenboscher, Leonardo van Onselen, filled the podium. Thank you everyone especially Elza and Adolf for a fun day out!

Whenever I travel to these small towns I always see the potential. With so many gravel roads it can make for a real good MTB training camp and even more so if you enjoy coffee-shop-surfing as much as I do! Do not however expect fine dining, but do go and enjoy the fish restaurants on the coast, but nothing beats a braai or pizza by the beach anyhow. There are more than enough to keep yourself busy with hiking, beach-time or the Inverroche Gin tasting that was another highlight. Maybe we were also lucky to end up with the friendliest AirB&B hosts in Stilbaai,  they even planned and booked possible options for us before we even arrived, thank you Diane and Pieter for the great time at Villa Giverny!

News  | Suid Kaap Forum

Images  |  Madri van Rensburg

  • Venue: Western Cape
  • Date: 19-26 March 2017
  • Distance: 691km
  • Climbing: 15400m
  • Position: 14th (8th for team leaders)
  • Time: 28h21

This race. Always so special. Always so tough. Always untamed. Always a dream to do well. Always a challenge to do so!

For team Topeak Ergon it was not the most successful outcome for the eight days of racing. With Kristian winning the event in 2014 and Alban a few time podium finisher, the goal is only to stand on the top step of the podium. Things could have gone better for Alban with the extreme heat and allergies not working in his favour, but with a disappointing outcome there is just higher motivation for the future!

There were plenty of positives however with especially the unbelievable bond we have as a team coming to the fore in times like these, not just the riders, but all the team staff, sponsors and media crew. It was a great few weeks and months having some team members around for quite some time!

Thank you Jeremiah for another stage race in the bag, with hardly a mishap, now for the next big one at Trans Alps!

 

Video  |  Brady & Stefan  | Canyon - Road to the Cape Epic

Video  |  Sascha Bam-berg  | Teazer  | Prologue  | Stage 1  | Stage 2  | Stage 3  | Stage 4  | Stage 5  | Stage 6  | Stage 7

Pictures  |  Andy Eyring 

 

  • Venue: Kayamandi, Stellenbosch
  • Date: 15 March 2017
  • Distance: 19km
  • Climbing: 437m
  • Position: In the crowds
  • Time: 0h48

This event is always a little highlight of the year for me, and I am sure also for most of the riders and spectators. It takes place in Kayamandi, the informal settlement outside of Stellenbosch, and the home of the Songo.info charity.

Songo.info grew to so much more these days than just a small BMX track and putting kids on bikes, now with a Clubhouse, lecturers and coaches, it must be one of the coolest projects to be involved with as a child with less opportunities to help you getting set-up for a better and constructive future.

The race is a short one, just a showcase of the top racers around before the start of the Cape Epic. For the riders it is not just an opportunity to show their support to a great project, it also offers a leaker leg loosener doing some laps past the Clubhouse, BMX-track and houses of Kayamandi.

For our Topeak Ergon Racing Team this event is never important results wise for the team, but we all love going there and supporting. Kristian did however had a god showing against some short course specialist finishing sixth, while the rest of us enjoyed the vibe mid pack.

Video  |  Andy Eyring  | 1-lap behind Erik

Pictures  |  Brady & Stefan

  • Venue: Boland and Cape Town
  • Date: 6-12 March 2017
  • Distance: +/- 400km
  • Climbing: +/- 4000m
  • Position: Training
  • Time: 13h00

I really enjoyed this week of racing on the road bike! Last year I did not take part in the Tour and only did the CT Cycle Tour on the MTB right in the middle of the masses for the fun, mostly due to the fact that I did not have a road bike at that time, but boy, was this week cool racing with a whole different group of guys, interesting tactics, faster speeds, some argy-bargy and back where it all started for me on the road bike!

The Tour of Good Hope was my last block of training before the Cape Epic. In the past it always worked well for me to race the Tour de Boland as it is not that hard on the body, not very long days, but with the great benefit of getting some speed in the legs. The feeling of racing, getting up early, going to bed late is an added bonus to get use to the schedule I will also follow during the Cape Epic.

After a hard block of training with the Flying Czech, Kristian Hynek, I was glad to get three days of rest before the Tour, but definitely felt good to have a first day not being too hard, just a really fast motor pacing kind of day with 43km/h average speed for the 101km stage. The Individual TT I took as another full-on rest day, riding and managed to sneak in second last by a close 45-seconds! Stage 3 was going to be a real test and walked away very happy with the shape feeling super comfortable on Frranschhoek Pass, spending 40-minutes after that in and out of breakaways, and still could keep a hard tempo up Du Toits Kloof Pass finishing not to far off the pace at the top. The last day was once again super fast except for one lovely crosswind section and the final climb up Taal Monument where my mojo was lost a bit.

The CT Cycle Tour was sadly a bit of wasted energy... Andy Eyring (our team social media guru and ex racer) joined Kristian and me for what normally is a great pedal around the Cape Peninsula, but crazy wind, protest action and a sad fire in Houtbay caused the organisers to cancel the event. A sad day for the event and Cape Town, and also an unfortunate experience for us, not getting the training as hoped, waking up damned early and many hours of standing. It is all part of the game and at least we had houses to go to not like the 15000 people in Houtbay affected by the fire.

Looking forward to this block of road racing again next year! But now we are in the final stretch for the Cape Epic! All the team riders and staff are arriving soon ;)

  • Venue: Kaleo Farm, Op die Berg
  • Date: 10-12 February 2017
  • Distance: 262km
  • Climbing: 4800m
  • Position: 8th
  • Time: 11h26

The Tankwa Trek will always be one of my favourites! I did not take part in the first edition, but for sure enjoyed the technical trails and great hospitality since I showed my face the first time in the Tankwa Karoo. This year the event got an exciting boost with Momentum Health as their new naming right sponsor.

For our Topeak Ergon Team it was a great fit to test the bodies, the African terrain, some new equipment and get the team together for a little dress rehearsal before the Cape Epic in March. In many ways the weekend of racing and the training camp in Stellenbosch was a big success, but it maybe did not show in the results of the Tankwa. Everyday the results and bodies felt better, but it definitely did not showing true conditioning after a busy schedule leading up to the race.

Alban and Kristian unfortunately suffered some minor mechanicals every day, it did not really put us on a convincing forward motion, but in stead had us chasing to get back to the front bunch on day 1 and 2 after which they just did not have the best legs for a desired result. Day 3 was better with the team trying to take control of the stage, it played out a lot better placing 3rd and securing 5th overall. It was a great opportunity for our two EU boys to get use to the rough African racing and will undoubtedly come out of it stronger.

JB and I fulfilled the support roll for our leaders, giving them a pace back and helping to fix jockey wheels when it was required deserving of a pat on the back, but for sure I was not yet over the moon with the racing condition. Somehow I feel the last days were a bit much for me mentally with training camps and activities.

Now in the final preparation stage for our big goal, the Cape Epic, there is some targets to be reached and a last block of hard training before we roll down the start ramp at Meerendal!

Pictures  |  Zoon Cronje  |  Oakpics

  • Venue: Grabouw
  • Date: 28 January 2017
  • Distance: 72km
  • Climbing: 1400m
  • Position: DNF
  • Time: -

After a good and happy result at Attakwas, I was rather motivated for a good race at the Grabouw National Marathon, but the motivation was maybe a little too high and with the rest of the Topeak-Ergon Team also in Stellenbosch with some hard training days, my legs just could not handle the training load and recover for the revamped, shorter and punchier Series.

The National XCM Series went through quite a big change-over with the events all shortened from the 100-120km events to 75km and 50km events. It plays a lot more into the hands of the XCO specialist and event though I believe it will do my speed very well, I somehow also believe it is a little step back for the top elites that would like to perform on a world level, especially before the Cape Epic. Time will tell!

JB had a rather special race after a big travel from USA the day before to place 9th! Sadly Kristian could not start due to a stomach bug and for me the day just did not go right from the start. With blocked legs and a tired body, I could not handle the speed thrown at me and it just did not stop. I decided to slow down and was soon into the slower rider just taking a rest and hoping to recover for some more training coming up.

 

  • Venue: Oudtshoorn - Groot Brakrivier
  • Date: 21 January 2017
  • Distance: 121km
  • Climbing: 2500m
  • Position: 4th
  • Time: 5h05

It is very normal for all mountain bikers that enjoy their yearly outing to the Karoo for the Attakwas to have a love/hate relationship with this event! I've had good, bad and average races through the last decade or what, that the event through the Attakwaskloof has kept us entertained as the season opener here in SA. Never the less, for sure my favourite marathon race on the SA calendar! I love the toughness, the different climates and terrains you encounter, the journey from semi-desert to coast, because it's like a semi local race for me and I have so many supporters and friends there!

This year had a slight twist with Topeak-Ergon teammate, Kristian Hynek, joining me for the event, and thanks to Dryland, we could visit Oudtshoorn a few days early to give them a taste of the Karoo. Even joined them for an experience through the Cango Wildlife Park were two of my beautiful white lion brothers reside. Feeding the elephants at the Buffelsdrift Game Farm was their highlight though.

The race had three Cape Epic winners on the start line, each of them a favourite for the overall title in March and no doubt there would have been a flex of muscles. Sauser punctured just when the race got serious, I tried a few times to break away to give Kristian a easy ride, but it ended up being Platt and Kristian in the front through the Attakwas and it was for sure fun racing again! Susi did make a good comeback and managed to win the sprint against Kristian after dropping Platt in the final hills.

I am smiling about Kristian's 2nd, my 4th place, a good race and happy with the shape after some lekker training, just need to shake some leftover christmas cookies still. Sadly I lost a lot of time in the final third of the race after a slight hunger knock, rookie error running out of food, but glad I could hang on to the best Saffa position, will for sure pack more biltong and droëwors next time!

Thanks Paul and Sarka for the support and Dryland for yet another great event!

Video  |  

Media  | Tread Mag  |

Images  | Ewald Sadie  | Oakpics  | 

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