We were able to pull Adriaan Louw, Team Contego team manager and professional rider, from his bike to comment on this weekend’s Wines2Whales race.
Wines2Whales takes riders from Lourensford Wines Estate in Somerset West to Onrus just outside Hermanus, the FNB Wines2Whales is a mountain bike journey that tests, tantalises and rewards participants with its attention to detail, remarkable trails and sublime course design. – Stillwatersports
Who is your teammate for this year?
Vinzent Dorn, the German MTB Champ. W2W is a very fast paced race that requires an XC style depth. Vinzent is a very fast XC racer and visiting South Africa for training during their winter. To me he was the perfect fit as the distances is suitable to a younger rider and someone that is confident to race against other Europeans. You often find that someone that does a race for the first time comes in with a bit more motivation and an eagerness to throw down some speed. It is a long shot to the podium with such a strong field but we have no reason to believe that it is out of reach.
Are you aiming for a podium position over this weekend?
I’ve done the W2W since inception and it is a race that I look forward to each year. Their support of pro riders through bigger prize purses have attracted a bigger and bigger field each year which adds a lot of depth and intensity to the race with this year being no exception. I would like to stay within the top 3 this year and I hope that the mix of youthful depth and experience with the race will help us in our quest.
What can we expect from you and Vinzent riding as a team?
As professional athletes there is a certain level of professionalism and skill that you can expect from your partner and even as a new partnership we don’t have any difficulty understanding what needs to be done en route and how to read a race.
Team Contego Mountain bike team chasing the dream, #bearhunting in the mountains and leaving a better sport behind.
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Andrew Hill and Adriaan Louw were able to play it safe on the final day en route to securing the overall title at the PwC Great Zuurberg Trek mountain bike race at Addo, near Port Elizabeth, on Sunday.
Even though they yielded the final stage to Kargo Pro’s Marco Joubert and Jurgens Uys, the Contego-TIB Insurance outfit ran out comfortable winners after completing the three tough stages in a combined time of 8:39:02.
Joubert and Uys, who hail from PE and Somerset West respectively, were runners-up in 8:56:56. Cycle Lab’s Andrew Mclean and former Springbok rugby player Joel Stransky filled the third place on the podium in 9:24:57.
Africa Silks-Valencia’s Anriette Schoeman and former national cross country champion Samantha Sanders swept to a comfortable victory in the women’s category after winning all three stages for a total time of 10:50:04.
In the mixed section, the Head Over Hills pairing of Neill Ungerer and Yolande de Villiers were equally unchallenged as they rode to the title in 9:41:55.
Reflecting on his second victory in three years, Hill said they were highly satisfied with their performance after achieving their goal of top place on the podium.
“We enjoyed the whole racing experience very much,” said the 34-year-old Durbanite, who won at his first attempt in 2014 alongside Paarl team-mate Louw.
“We worked hard to get the lead on Saturday and we could feel that today, but the objective was to aim for the overall win.
“The first day was unfortunate but that set our minds right and we put our heads together and said we have to go out there and do what we are paid to do.”
Disaster struck when the duo went off course on the opening day while leading and lost all of their advantage, but a determined effort on the second stage saw them create a lead that almost made the overall win a formality.
“Yesterday did take quite a bit out of our legs, but today we were very relaxed and chilled.
“After a hard day’s work that’s what you want out of mountain biking – to remember why you are on the bike and why you actually race.”
Even though they have their disagreements, Hill said their partnership worked extremely well.
“We do have a little fight at times, but get on very well and it’s great to ride with a mate. He is a good friend; we’re almost like brothers.”
Despite a string of cycling triumphs in her illustrious career, the 38-year-old Schoeman, from Port Elizabeth, said she and Sanders, who lives in Hoedspruit in Mpumalanga, were thrilled with their overall victory.
“Winning is always a big motivator for me,” said the multiple national road champion.
“I’m a really competitive person and set high standards for myself. This is a really special race.”
Mountain bike pros Andrew Hill and Adriaan Louw will be out to re-assert their authority on the three-day PwC Great Zuurberg Trek when it takes place just outside Port Elizabeth from June 3 to 5.
The TIB Insurance-Contego team made light work of the inaugural event two years ago, claiming a hat-trick of stage wins en route to the overall title.
Photographer: Ewald Sadie
Last year Hill, who races out of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, joined forces with Cape Town’s Chris Wolhuter, but had to settle for the runners-up spot.
This time Wolhuter will team up with new partner Craig Boyes and the Imbuko-Freewheel Cycology outfit should be strong contenders after dominating the Liberty Winelands MTB Encounter in mid-April.
“Coming back to Zuurberg is always a treat for me,” said the 34-year-old Hill, who placed fifth overall in last month’s nine-day Old Mutual joBerg2c.
“I really think the event has something special, even to the seasoned mountain biker.
“The trails, views and the Eastern Cape hospitality are up there among the best in the country and I love heading back to take part.”
Hill said he was looking forward to partnering with the 25-year-old Louw, who hails from Paarl in the Western Cape, for another shot at the title.
“Adriaan and I get on well off the bike, but, more importantly, we gel on the bike, really working together when it is called for.
“He is going well at the moment and it will be a great advantage to be able to tap into his experience and strengths in our bid to regain the title.”
While their focus will be on racing, Hill said they were looking forward to the overall experience of competing at Zuurberg after a busy start to the season.
“The three days are certainly going to be something special for us. I’m looking forward to the fun aspect of the trails and the relaxed atmosphere at the hotel after each day’s riding.”
Hill said the terrain set the race apart from other events with the daily finish at the top of Zuurberg Pass.
“It is a tester for the racing guys and provides a great sense of achievement for the rest of the field.
“I also enjoy the views on the queen stage (day two) where you can see the Karoo on the one side and the coast on the other.”
The Port Elizabeth-based Merrell team of SanMari Woithe and Andrea Shirley will target a hat-trick of victories in the women’s category.
“I’m looking forward to teaming up with SanMari, with whom I’ve raced a lot,” said Shirley
“We love racing in our ‘back yard’ and our objective is to win while having as much fun as possible.”
She said they knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which helped in a stage race with such varied course conditions.
We’re excited to launch the first episode of our online video series Contego Segment Hunter. The first segment in the series is Bloemslang – Just the Drop at Bloemendal Wine Estate. After consulting with the team and local riders, Gert Heyns was selected a worthy challenger to Louis Bresler-Knipe’s King of the Mountain. Watch the video below to see if Gert takes the KOM.
Gert never rests. Even while celebrating with a wheelie, he’s on the lookout for more KOMs to claim.
Our victorious Contego Segment Hunter heroes ride off into the sunset.
The Bloemslang – Just the Drop leaderboard:
While Gert Heyns sits on the top spot, it is unlikely that previous KOM holder and local rider Louis Bresler-Knipe will allow it to stand without a fight.
Grand Prize: Contego Unit Trust worth R30,000
At the end of the series, Contego are giving away R30,000 worth of unit trusts. All you have to do is ride your bike!How to enter:
- Join the Contego Segment Hunter Strava club and record your segment rides on Strava.
- Get out and ride! After each segment is announced go and ride it. Please ride safely though, there is no prize for being the fastest.
For each Contego Segment Hunter segment you ride, you will be entered into the draw to win. So if you ride all six segments during the series, you will receive six entries.
Nominate your favourite segment to feature in future episodes of Contego Segment Hunter:
We’re looking for you to nominate your favourite Strava segments to be featured in our Contego Segment Hunter video series. If your segment is chosen you could win a Cadence Nutrition hamper valued at R2,620.
You can nominate your segments here.
Professional mountain bikers Erik Kleinhans and Adriaan Louw were the source of much excitement during stage one of the 50km Cell C Arabella MTB Challenge in Kleinmond on Saturday, 23 April 2016.
A sprint finish was the deciding factor with Kleinhans pipping Louw to the finish in an impressive time of 02 hours 11 minutes 30 seconds. “It feels strange to win a race when I was never really in the lead,” laughs Kleinhans. “Adriaan Louw, Dylan Rebello and Stephan Senekal went full blast up the first climb, but I kept my own pace. At one stage I was round about 8th or 9th overall. I caught Stephan on a section of the route that featured rugged terrain. I managed to catch Dylan on a technical single track section, while Adriaan was caught in the last 200 meters. The route was fun. I enjoy the rougher route because it’s real mountain biking. The Cell C Arabella MTB Challenge is not just about riding your bike though, it’s about socializing. I plan to enjoy a round of golf this afternoon. To save the legs I might consider booking a golf cart.” Adriaan Louw came in second, while Dylan Rebello finished third.
Adriaan Louw was in the lead for the majority of the race, before being caught by Kleinhans in the finishing straight. “Tomorrow will probably end in another sprint,” says Louw. “I sat on the wheels at the start. At the first climb I took a gap. To test the legs I continued to push hard on the shorter climbs. Dylan came through pulling hard, but later faded. At one stage I looked over my shoulder and saw Erik working his way up. We could see the finish line when he caught me. I think the shorter two day stage races have a big future as they’re friendly for both riders and supporters. The shorter distances are also much more interesting.”
As the end of the month draws nearer, so does the second annual Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival at Cascades MTB Park, taking place this year from Friday 30 April to Monday 2 May. Thrown into the mix of thrilling mountain bike action, is the UCI Junior World Series XCO event, where the young up-and-comers will be able to gain important UCI points and a favourable seeding for the 2016 UCI MTB World Championships in Nove Mesto na Morave (CZE) from 28 June to 3 July.
Although the PMB MTB Festival XCO is a once-off event that falls outside of the national Stihl 2016 SA MTB Cup Series, Team Contego’s Jarrod van den Heever hopes to continue his strong form with his eye on the Junior World Champs later this year.
Van den Heever, who currently lies second in the local Series Log after three events, said: “Things are going good in the SA Cup Series – I am hoping for a top three this year, but to get the win is the main aim.”
Although rather skilled in the road discipline as well, Van den Heever feels that cross-country is where his heart is. “I do enjoy myself on the road, and I’ve gotten quite a few good results there. I feel that if I lose my passion in the one discipline, I could easily move over to the next,” he added.
In the off-season, the 17-year-old spends time on his Enduro bike to practise his skills set. “I also do it just to remind myself of why I’m riding. It clears my mind of other things like school,” he laughed.
Appreciative of the time he has been afforded to travel the country, Van Den Heever is also grateful of his time spent abroad: “I’ve travelled around South Africa for fours years and have seen almost the whole of the country, which has been awesome to experience because not everyone can get to do so.
“This year we decided to go a bit further, to Europe to countries like Germany and Italy. I’ve just completed my European trip and got some awesome results that I’m very proud of. Racing in Europe is a totally different ball game, I’m very happy to have gained some experience from racing there. I have competed in four races so far at Cascades and I also stayed there for a week last year to go watch the PMB MTB Festival where I took part in the Enduro race.”
Although having taken part in cross-country and Enduro events at Cascades before, Van den Heever will only be focusing on cross-country this year in order to claim favourable UCI points and is hoping to be selected for the Junior World Champs.
Van den Heever currently lies 19th in the UCI Junior Men World XCO rankings (As per UCI Website 5 April 2016).
Other mountain bike events that will be held over the course of the weekend at the PMB MTB Festival are:
Saturday 30 April
UCI Junior World Series XCO
UCI Elite XCO HC
Sunday 1 May
SA Marathon Championships Masters 30+
Monday 2 May
KZN Inter-Schools MTB Series
The Pietermaritzburg MTB Festival takes place at Cascades MTB Park from 30 April to 2 May 2016 and forms part of the greater Africa Bike City project in Pietermaritzburg. The legacy project and continued development of the venue of Cascades MTB Park as well as staff, cyclists and officials strengthens the local resource pool as we build towards the 2022 Commonwealth Games. For more information on the 2016 PMB MTB Festival, click here: http://www.cyclingsa…b-mtb-festival/.
Source: Cycling South Africa.