The words blood, sweat and tears definitely became a reality for many a rider during the third stage of the DCM Cape Pioneer Trek.
First there was the challenge to work your way upwards through the never ending loose rocks, bumps and holes to get to the top of the old Voortrekker-trail in the Kammanassie Nature Reserve. There was no respite racing downhill either. It was just as technical and challenging.
Things certainly did not ease up during the remainder of the stage from George to De Rust (110km) in the Southern Cape. In the last 40 kilometers the riders’ endurance was severely tested by a dry headwind while the temperature soared to a number somewhere in the mid thirties.
However the harsh weather conditions and tough technical sections did not deter the mixed teams to keep on battling full on for the privilege to wear the coveted red jersey.
In the end during a day where deals were offered and refused, water bottles lost leading to a near unbearable thirst and of course untimely punctures it was again Johan Labuschagne and Yolandi de Villiers (Cycle Lab) who proved that once the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
For the second day in a row they were the stage winners and in the process they gained another five minutes on the overall leaders in the mixed category, Kobus and Fienie Barnard (Klein Karoo). They are now fourth, 30 minutes behind.
De Villiers and Labuschagne’s winning time was 5 hours 21 minutes and 14 seconds.
According to Labuschagne they tried making a deal with the Swiss-team, Patrick Griessen and Ariane Luthi, during the last 30 kilometers.
“We asked them to work with us so as to try and make up as much time as possible on the other teams. The deal we offered them was that if we work together they should allow us to win the stage and in return they will get to wear the red jersey.
“When the Swiss-team turned the deal down, I dropped back to Yolandi and told her what happened. We then bided our time before I used a ‘slingshot’ to catapult Yolandi into the lead. From then on we made the racing really hard. The Swiss tried chasing us down for about a kilometer before giving up.
“As luck would have it Damien Booth and Cornell van Heerden joined up with us. That made things a lot easier because we could take turns setting the pace up front.”
Griessen and Luthi finished second in a time of 5:23.49.
Luthi said afterwards their problems started when she lost her water bottle.
“In effect it meant that for the last 60 minutes of the race we had no water. You certainly don’t want to be in such a situation if you have to race against a dry headwind in hot conditions. I am just glad that we did not lose too much time.”
Actually Luthi deserve a special mention. She has only been cycling seriously for the last 12 months. She used to be a swimmer.
The Barnards finished third in a time of 5:27:11 in doing so they ensured that they still have a 4 minute and 2 second lead on the Swiss team and are nearly 16 minutes ahead of Marcel Deacon and Ischen Stopforth (Bizhub).
According to Kobus Barnard the turning point in their race came when he punctured on the decent of the treacherous Kammanassie.
“Up until then we were all riding together. Although it did not take long to repair the puncture we could not manage to catch up with the leaders again. That meant we were out on our own for the last 30 kilometers. That made for some real tough going.”
Stopforth admitted that there was not much she enjoyed during the third stage.
“I consider myself to be a hard woman that can handle a lot. Today was the first time that I literally cried during a race.”