Heyns and De Groot master muddy MTB
A muddy course and perfect conditions for mountain biking made for a brilliant day of cycling at the first major sporting event of this year's Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival.
The Momentum Knysna Cycle Tour kicked off with four MTB events: 80km, 50km, 30km and 15km.
The 80km event was won by Gert Heyns in 2:53:59. Second was Knysna home boy Matt Beers in 3:01:00 and third was HB Kruger in 3:03:19.
First woman home and ninth overall was Robyn de Groot in 3:25:14 with Candice Lill a split second behind her. Third was Sarah Hill in 3:25:35.
Gert Heyns said it was "quite muddy out there today but not too cold, so in the end it was actually good riding conditions. The last 20km was quite a lot of puddles and you could feel the gears grinding a bit, but it didn't really affect the race."
Heyns and Beers made a breakaway early in the race and stayed together but Beers admits he did not have the gas to stay with Heyns.
Said Beers, "It was super muddy. It was actually a lot worse than previous years. Obviously, the forest is always quite damp but it was a good race. We set a hard pace from the beginning. Gert and I got away up Simola and stayed in front for the rest of the race. We were attacking each other all day and just on the last climb he attacked again… he had the stronger legs today and he took it."
Heyns said he knew that the finish was quite fast and that it would be quite hard to get away. "Last year I came second with a sprint against Matt so I was quite confident that if I couldn't get away for the finish I should still be able to take the sprint. I felt quite good today and I think about 10km out on the last little climb I attacked."
Robyn de Groot said that she hadn't realised it had rained so much overnight. "It was muddy out there! But it actually made for really nice racing; it wasn't too slippery - it was actually perfect."
It was an extremely close finish for the Elite women. "I was lying in third place most of the way and caught Candice with about 20km to go, or maybe even less, and then we rode together and sprinted for the finish. I was happy with that," De Groot said.
Race director, Elwin Thompson of Knysna Rotary, thanked the sponsors, particularly Momentum, as well as the cyclists. "The sponsors and riders make it possible to have this event every year and their support and participation is what enables Rotary to do so much good work in the Knysna area," he said.
The group of pro riders just after the start of the 80km MTB race with the overall men’s winner, Gert Heyns, far left. Robyn de Groot and Gert Heyns, winners of the 80km MTB race.
These two riders finished the 50km road race ... on bicycles made out of cotton wood.
LEFT: Gert Heyns in pensive mood before the start of the 80km MTB race at this year’s Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival. The amicable Heyns won the race.
Tristan Nortjé, from George, won the 50km MTB race.
HB Kruger, here carrying his bike up the steep walkway, finished in 3rd position in both the 80km MTB and the Knysna Cycle Tour road race.