2018 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen

A fighting spirit earned Canyon Topeak and dormakaba opening stage wins at the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen on Friday the 9th of February 2018.

Both the men’s and the women’s races got off to frenetic starts with the cross-country specialists, Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini of Cannondale Factory Racing 1 and their support team of Maxime Marotte and Marcel Guerrini setting the pace. Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes of PYGA Euro Steel and the Centurion Vaude by Goldwurst Power combination, of Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr, were also instrumental in ensuring the kilometres ticked down at a rapid rate.

The women’s pace was set by the eventual stage winners; Candice Lill and Helen Grobert of dormakaba. Lill said after the stage that it had been the plan to start fast all along. “I’ve raced the Tankwa Trek a few times now and I know the route quite well. So, we planned to get into the singletrack first and control the pace. I was quite surprised to see we had opened a gap on the first singletrack climb and though it came back together a few times after we had opened a gap the other teams had to keep expending energy to catch us” she explained.

The stage came down to a sprint finish but with only Avancini able to challenge Lakata and Hynek the Canyon Topeak pair were able to claim the stage victory relatively comfortably, although on the clock the gap to Cannondale Factory Racing 1 is a single second.

The decisive moment in the women’s race came on the descent from the highest point of the day. At the 55km mark; dormakaba had Meerendal CBC’s Jennie Stenerhag and Esther Süss for company, with Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz of Ascendis Health 15 seconds back. By the bottom of the descent, at the 60-kilometre mark, the gap was up to nearly a minute and a half – which Lill and Grobert were able to maintain to the finish.

The battle for seconds was contested throughout the final 23 kilometres between Stenerhag and Süss, and De Groot and Spitz. The Ascendis Health pairing slipped away in the final few hundred meters to gain 5 seconds on their rivals. The defending champions, Stenerhag and Süss, lay 1 minute and thirty seconds behind the dormakaba race leaders.

Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen

Stage 2:

The Queen Stage of the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, on Saturday the 10th of February 2018, saw dormakaba extend their general classification lead while Spur Specialized struck on the Mautivator descent – which is named after the stage director Mauritz ‘Mauti’ Walters. The day was drama filled throughout; with crashes, injuries and mechanicals all shaping the stage outcome.

The 87-kilometre-long second stage featured 2 200 meters of climbing. The short, 15-kilometre, run-in to the day’s first significant obstacle – the DUTOIT Drop, a 3 kilometre singletrack descent which drops from the Koue Bokkeveld plateau to the Ceres Valley – ensured that both the men’s and women’s races got off to fast starts. Cannondale Factory Racing’s Manuel Fumic was the first victim of the day, as he decided to withdraw in the first 5 kilometres with an injured back. The women’s race was then marred by a horror crash by Esther Süss. The defending champion hit a rut in the road as the leading women approached the DUTOIT Drop and crashed at high speed. The quick reactions of her Swiss compatriot, Ariane Lüthi, saw the medical team alerted and the Meerendal CBC rider was taken to hospital for stitches. Fortunately, the doctor’s report is positive and despite the apparent initial severity of her wound Süss should be back on the bike within a week.

The men’s race settled into a rhythm as the riders made their way along the northern reaches of the Ceres Valley. The pace remained relatively high throughout this phase of the race, but not so high as to prevent first Maxime Marotte (broken rear derailleur) and then Alban Lakata (puncture) from chasing back to the front group. Despite PYGA Euro Steel ratcheting up the pace on the old wagon trail climb from the Ceres Valley back into the Koue Bokkeveld a massive leading group of 20 riders started the Merino Monster climb together.

Rohrbach and Geismayr were the first team over the summit, in so doing claiming the King of the Mountain hot spot prize. They were followed by Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes, of PYGA Euro Steel and the race leaders, Lakata and Hynek. The fourth team to the top of the Merino Monster was the Spur Specialized team of Alan Hatherly and Simon Andreassen.

The stage victory for Spur Specialized moved them up to fourth place overall, four minutes and forty seconds behind the race leaders, Canyon Topeak. Despite only finishing fifth on the stage Cannondale Factory Racing 2’s Marotte and Marcel Guerrini moved into second on the general classification standings, while PYGA Euro Steel moved up from fourth to third overall; following their fourth-place stage finish.

Once the women had navigated the DUTOIT Drop the pattern of the opening stage was repeated with dormakaba’s Candice Lill and Helen Grobert doing much of the pace making duties. The pair were especially keen to take the lead on the descents. “It’s cool to see how fast you can go when you’re just riding and having fun” Grobert said post-stage. “I’m really enjoying the Tankwa Trek and racing with Candice (Lill)”.

Despite a puncture for Sabine Spitz, of Ascendis Health she and Robyn de Groot, joined the other leading women’s teams in a formidable group which contained dormakaba, Silverback Volvo OMX and Team joBerg2c, at the base of the Merino Monster. Spitz and De Groot then made their move, which only Lill and Grobert were able to follow. The Ascendis Health women claimed the Queen of the Mountain prize but the dormakaba women were once again willing to take more risks on the descent and raced to a 2 minute lead on the 10 kilometre long descent.

The pair then time trialled to the finish, extending their lead to 2 minutes and 51 seconds. “Those final 12 kilometres from the bottom of the descent were really tough, but fortunately there was a tail wind” Lill smiled.

Lill and Grobert were joined on the stage and women’s general classification podium by Ascendis Health’s De Groot and Spitz, and Silverback Volvo OMX’s Yolande de Villiers and Mariske Strauss.

Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen

Stage 3:

The third and final stage of the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, was won by Nicola Rohrbach and Daniel Geismayr (Centurion Vaude by Goldwurst Power), and Yolande de Villiers and Mariske Strauss (Silverback Volvo OMX); but despite a tense moment for the leading women neither the pink or yellow jerseys changed hands. No mountain biking fan can argue that dormakaba’s Candice Lill and Helen Grobert, and Canyon Topeak Factory Racing’s Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek were deserved winners of the 2018 edition of the race.

Behind the eventual stage winners, the final stage proved a tense affair. The leading group of general classification riders never dropped to below six teams. The only casualty on the stage was a significant one, with ramifications beyond the Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen. The seventh team in contention for second position on the stage and the fourth placed team going into the final stage, the Spur Specialized combination of Alan Hatherly and Simon Andreassen, were rocked by the South African cross-country champion crashing out of the race. Hatherly’s crash left him with a broken radius, in his wrist, and with just under a month to go before the UCI World Cup campaign kicks off in his home town of Stellenbosch the injury is even more unfortunate. South African mountain biking fans had great hopes of Hatherly claiming the under 23 race victory at the Stellenbosch World Cup, but now the young star could well miss a significant part of the season.

The six remaining teams in the leading men’s group contested a chaotic sprint for second position, with PYGA Euro Steel’s Philip Buys and Matthys Beukes taking the honours. The third team across the line was the yellow jersey wearing Canyon Topeak pair of Alban Lakata and Kristian Hynek.

The women’s race saw the dormakaba team of Candice Lill and Helen Grobert suffer their first misfortune of the race, but despite taking longer than they would have liked to fix a puncture their overall lead was never truly in doubt. The Silverback Volvo OMX team had set the pace once the women entered the singletrack but Lill and Grobert did not appear to be in any discomfort as they tracked the third placed general classification team. Ascendis Health’s Robyn de Groot and Sabine Spitz were slightly off the pace, but with a 12-minute buffer on De Villiers and Strauss they were at no risk of losing their second position overall.

Thus, concluded a memorable Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen: with the crowning of two worthy winning teams; the 2018 women’s champion, the dominant dormakaba squad, and the men’s champions the tactically astute Canyon Topeak Factory Racing.

Results: Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, Presented by Biogen

Stage 1 Men’s

  1. Canyon Topeak, Alban Lakata & Kristian Hynek (3:14:55)
  2. Cannondale 1, Manuel Fumic & Henrique Avancini (3:14:56 | + 00:01)
  3. Cannondale 2, Maxime Marotte & Marcel Guerrini (3:15:01 | + 00:06)
  4. PYGA Euro Steel, Philip Buys & Matthys Beukes (3:17:19 | + 02:24)
  5. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Matt Beers (3:19:07 | +04:12)

Stage 1 Women’s

  1. dormakaba, Candice Lill & Helen Grobert (3:49:18)
  2. Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (3:50:43 | + 01:25)
  3. Meerendal CBC, Jennie Stenerhag & Esther Süss (3:50:48 | + 01:30)
  4. Team joBerg2c, Amy McDogall & Bianca Haw (3:58:51 | + 09:33)
  5. Silverback Volvo OMX, Yolande de Villiers & Mariske Strauss (3:59:44 | +10:26)

Results: Momentum Health Tankwa Trek, Presented by Biogen

Stage 2 Men’s

  1. Spur Specialized, Alan Hatherly & Simon Andreassen (3:41:29)
  2. Canyon Topeak, Alban Lakata & Kristian Hynek (3:42:05 | +00:36)
  3. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Matt Beers (3:43:21 | +01:52)
  4. PYGA Euro Steel, Philip Buys & Matthys Beukes (3:43:22 | +01:53)
  5. Cannondale 2, Maxime Marotte & Marcel Guerrini (3:44:23 | +02:54)

Men’s General Classification after Stage 2

  1. Canyon Topeak, Alban Lakata & Kristian Hynek (6:57:00)
  2. Cannondale 2, Maxime Marotte & Marcel Guerrini (6:59:24 | +02:24)
  3. PYGA Euro Steel, Philip Buys & Matthys Beukes (7:00:41 | +03:41)
  4. Spur Specialized, Alan Hatherly & Simon Andreassen (7:01:41 | +04:41)
  5. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Matt Beers (7:02:29 | +05:29)

Stage 2 Women’s

  1. dormakaba, Candice Lill & Helen Grobert (4:20:17)
  2. Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (4:23:08 | +02:51)
  3. Silverback Volvo OMX, Yolande de Villiers & Mariske Strauss (4:26:28 | +06:11)
  4. Team joBerg2c, Amy McDogall & Bianca Haw (4:31:14 | +10:57)
  5. dormakaba 2, Samantha Sanders & Carmen Buchacher ( 4:44:30 | +24:13)

Women’s General Classification after Stage 2

  1. dormakaba, Candice Lill & Helen Grobert (8:09:35)
  2. Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (8:13:51 | +04:16)
  3. Silverback Volvo OMX, Yolande de Villiers & Mariske Strauss (8:26:12 | +16:37)
  4. Team joBerg2c, Amy McDogall & Bianca Haw (8:30:05 | +20:30)
  5. dormakaba 2, Samantha Sanders & Carmen Buchacher (8:53:53 | +44:18)

Stage 3 Men’s

  1. Centurion Vaude Goldwurst Power, Nicola Rohrbach & Daniel Geismayr (2:54:50)
  2. PYGA Euro Steel, Philip Buys & Matthys Beukes (2:59:37 | +03:04)
  3. Canyon Topeak, Alban Lakata & Kristian Hynek (2:59:40 | +03:07)
  4. NAD Pro MTB, Nico Bell & Matt Beers (2:59:42 | +03:09)
  5. Cannondale 2, Maxime Marotte & Marcel Guerrini (2:59:47 | +03:14)

Men’s General Classification after Stage 3

  1. Canyon Topeak, Alban Lakata & Kristian Hynek (9:56:40)
  2. Cannondale 2, Maxime Marotte & Marcel Guerrini (9:59:11 | +02:31)
  3. PYGA Euro Steel, Philip Buys & Matthys Beukes (10:00:18 | +03:38)
  4. NAD Pro MTB 1, Nico Bell & Matt Beers (10:02:11 | +05:31)
  5. NAD Pro MTB 2, Gawie Combrinck & Wessel Botha (10:14:04 | +17:24)

Stage 3 Women’s

  1. Silverback Volvo OMX, Yolande de Villiers & Mariske Strauss (3:20:59)
  2. Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (3:22:44 | +01:45)
  3. dormakaba, Candice Lill & Helen Grobert (3:23:11 | +02:12)
  4. dormakaba 2, Samantha Saunders & Carmen Buchacher (3:30:26 | +09:27)
  5. Team joBerg2c, Amy McDogall & Bianca Haw (3:31:28 | +10:29)

Women’s General Classification after Stage 3

  1. dormakaba, Candice Lill & Helen Grobert (11:32:46)
  2. Ascendis Health, Robyn de Groot & Sabine Spitz (11:36:35 | +03:49)
  3. Silverback Volvo OMX, Yolande de Villiers & Mariske Strauss (11:47:11 | +14:25)
  4. Team joBerg2c, Amy McDogall & Bianca Haw (12:01:33 | +28:47)
  5. dormakaba 2, Samantha Saunders & Carmen Buchacher (12:24:19 | +51:33)

For the full results and more information please visit www.tankwatrek.co.za.

Image by Zoon Cronje from www.zcmc.co.za

Image by Zoon Cronje from www.zcmc.co.za

Image from stage 2 of the 2018 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek presente by Biogen captured by Zoon Cronje from www.zcmc.co.za

Image from stage 2 of the 2018 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek presente by Biogen captured by Zoon Cronje from www.zcmc.co.za

Image from stage 3 of the 2018 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek presente by Biogen captured by Zoon Cronje from www.zcmc.co.za

Image from stage 3 of the 2018 Momentum Health Tankwa Trek presente by Biogen captured by Zoon Cronje from www.zcmc.co.za