Knysna Cycle Tour kickstarts Oyster Festival
This year’s Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival kicked off with a successful Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour that had thousands of cyclists descend on Knysna for the two-day event.
About 3 500 riders competed in the MTB races on Saturday, with Matthys Beukes, Team PYGA Euro Steel, winning the 80km MTB event in 02:47:02. He beat Gert Heyns (02:51:29) by more than three minutes, breaking the course record he set in 2015, of 02:52:12. Third was Matt Beers, just a split second behind Heyns (02:51:30).
Speaking after the race, Beukes said it went well for him even though he had woken up with allergies and nearly didn’t compete.
“I thought I would see how it went after the first climb, but my legs felt quite fresh. I got some good training in the last few weeks so I could see the power was there from quite early on. It was just a matter of trying to tire the other guys out a bit. At the 40km mark I put in a big attack.”
When Beukes won the event two years ago, the first woman home then was Robyn de Groot, who rides for Team Ascendis Health. She was also the first woman home this year, with a time of 03:00:10, beating Candice Lill (03:01:44) and last year’s winner Yolande de Villiers who came third.
George-based De Groot said that supporting a local event is very important to her and she was happy that the event had gone ahead despite the fires.
Sunday’s road race produced two first-time winners for the Knysna Cycle Tour 115km event.
Brendon Davids clinched his first Knysna Cycle Tour title, finishing in a time of 02:45:30 and beating Reynard Butler and Thando Zothe by more than a minute. In a sprint finish Butler (02:47:19 ) beat Zothe (02:47:20) by just a split second.
“The team (Road Cover) executed the plan really well, and they put me in the best position possible,” said Davids. “We attacked around 65km from the finish and I managed to do a sort of a solo time trial to the finish.”
Carmen Buchacher also took her first win in the event, beating Candice Lill by six seconds in a time of 2:55:46. Defending women’s champion Anriette Schoeman was third (2:57:46).
“I love being here for the Oyster Festival. I always do the mountain bike race first on the Saturday, but yesterday I didn’t have the best legs and was only placed fourth so I think this made up for it today,” Buchacher said after the race.
Young hand cyclist Zach Rauch Legward managed to fulfil his goal to be the youngest differently abled competitor to complete the 50km road race. He finished looking fresh, just as the rain started to fall.
The 10-year-old has been cycling for the last three years on a custombuilt hand cycle and is the youngest hand cyclist in South Africa. He has won gold in the Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge three times, has ridden Cape Town Cycle Tour Junior twice and recently did the The Gun Run.
Zach and his support team, headed up by dad Geoff Legward, started training for the Knysna Cycle Tour four months ago, riding a distance of 13km every second day.
The marketing director of the Knysna Cycle Tour, Andrew Finn, said he was extremely happy with the weekend’s events considering the fact that it was just one month since the fires started.
“We are grateful to the thousands of cyclists who made the trip to Knysna to support the Cycle Tour and our campaign #RideForALocal,” said Finn.
Doug Emanuel, president of Knysna Rotary which coordinates the event, said the turnout for the Cycle Tour was fantastic. “We were a bit anxious after the fires but very soon it was business as usual in Knysna, and we are very grateful to all the riders who turned out to support the event, and Knysna.”
The head of sponsorships for Momentum, Carel Bosman, said it was a wonderful weekend of racing and festivities. “Saturday especially was a fantastic day in Knysna because of the unseasonably warm weather. There was a great vibe in town after the previous traumatic weeks following the fires. There really is a sense that Knysna is rising from the devastation. Momentum was very involved in the relief effort, and it is wonderful to see locals and visitors enjoying themselves again in the outdoors and the sunshine. I rode the race myself and I can tell you that the forest is still beautiful and Knysna has lost none of its appeal.”
Brendon Davids, winner of the 115km road race, knew he had it in the bag. More pictures on page 19.
The women’s winners of the 80km MTB race on Saturday, July 8 were (from left) Candice Lill, Robyn de Groot and Yolanda de Villiers.