Dryland – From mechanic for champions to champion

    From being a mechanic for mountain bike champions to becoming a champion in his own right is Patrick Griessen from Switzerland’s success story during the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.

    Griessen and Ariane Luthi (Sputnik-Bikeshop.Ch) won the fourth stage (De Rust to Prince Albert – 110km) of the DCM Cape Pioneer’s mixed category in a time of 5 hours 15 minutes and 17 seconds and in doing so they are now leading by more than 11 minutes.

    Griessen and Luthi’s performance might easily be seen as the tour’s “fairy tale”.

    From 2003 to 2005 Griessen was the mechanic whose main responsibility was to ensure that Christoph Sauser, one of the legends of international mountain biking, never have mechanical failures when he races.

    He then quit to go help his dad in the Sputnik Bike Shop. This career change gave Griessen the opportunity to start racing himself.

    He soon realized that he is not a bad marathon racer.

    Griessen met Luthi after her cousin suggested that he should sponsor her. After seeing her race he readily agreed.

    It was Sauser who suggested that the two of them should race the DCM Cape Pioneer together.

    “I always wanted to come and race in South Africa but when the Cape Epic is on, it is spring in Switzerland which means that we are quite busy in the bike shop.

    “The DCM Cape Pioneer takes place in our winter, so it is perfect timing. This is certainly not the last time that I will be racing it,” Griessen said.

    Luthi used to be a competitive swimmer and tri-athlete before she started to compete in mountain bike races.

    In the past few days she has astonished a lot of male riders with her aggressive riding.

    Apparently Luthi does not hesitate to go to the front and set the pace if she thinks they are riding to slow. In the process she has dented quite a few male ego’s because not everybody can keep when she is riding in front.

    When asked about it Luthi just laughed and said that it is just a way to enjoy herself.

    She is full of praise for Griessen who she refers to as her sponsor, mechanic and teammate

    Johann Labuschagne and Yolandi de Villiers (Cycle Lab) finished second in the fourth stage in a time of 5:24:18 which means that they are now in third overall.

    According to Labushagne they did not have the best of days.

    “Yolandi suffered two punctures, one in her left leg and one in her right leg that forced us to take things a little bit easier today,” said Labuschagne jokingly.

    De Villiers complained afterwards that there was a moment when she felt like “Absalon”. That was when she rode into a thorn bush. At the finish she was more pre-occupied with pulling out thorns than answering questions as to how her race went.

    Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo) who were the leaders for two stages had really bad luck.

    Kobus Barnard reckons that he ate something that was off in De Rust that meant that he started the fourth stage with an upset stomach.

    “I had to stop four times in the veld. To top it all we had to stop and fix a derailleur which meant that we lost at least another five minutes, but I am not complaining. We managed to finish and there is still two days of racing left.”

    They finished third in a time of 5:31:04 and are now lying second overall.

    For more information and results visit www.capepioneer.co.za www.dryland.co.za