Some of the country’s top mountain bikers will head a capacity field when the third edition of the RE:CM Knysna 200 stage race rolls out on June 7.
The title sponsor’s Waylon Woolcock and Lourens Luus, who finished second at the recent joBerg2c, will be looking for a rematch with champion Brandon Stewart, who saddles up with solo category winner Kevin Evans under the FedGroup-Itec banner.
Also in the mix at the three-day Garden Route race will be last year’s runner-up Timo Cooper, riding alongside Germany’s Nico Pfitzenmaier in the colours of Bridge.
The women’s race will feature the likes of 10-time Absa Cape Epic finisher Hannele Steyn and eight-time national road champion Anriëtte Schoeman, who made her off-road debut at last week’s Nedbank sani2c.
The event will also be sporting celebrity firepower in the form of TV doctor Michael Mol, ex-Springbok rugby player Victor Matfield and two Olympic athletes – pole-vaulter Okkert Brits and rower Matthew Brittain, who was sixth at joBerg2c.
According to race director Patric Mosterd of Garden Route Events, the 200km route through tough terrain was ideally suited to riders with moderate to advanced technical abilities and fitness.
“It’s definitely a challenge for the average rider who works for a living but is passionate about getting out into the mountains.”
“It’s also perfect for the racing snakes to race from beginning to end.”
Mosterd said the race had grown by 40 percent from the previous year, forcing organisers to cap the field at 300 entries to ensure a premium experience for riders.
“That means no queues, lots of personal attention and maximum rider enjoyment, which ensures a quality event for everyone, including our sponsors.”
The 75km first stage, which includes 1 580m of ascent, starts at the Knysna Elephant Park and heads out towards Wittedrift before climbing up towards Protea Wilds Retreat.
Mosterd said the leaders would probably have an opportunity to open a gap on the single track section at Petrus se Brand. “Only the best make it all the way to the top without pushing”.
“The highlight of the day must be the 4km contour single track through the most beautiful section of indigenous forest on the Garden Route.”
Day two, which is 68km long and features 1 620m of climbing, begins at Rheenendal and takes in some of the area’s historical attractions.
“The first 28km of this stage includes 130-year-old Yellowwood trees, river crossings, the Outeniqua Hiking Trail, Millwood gold mines, great views and lots of elephant dung.”
Mosterd said the third and final 57km stage from the Harkerville Forestry Station wrapped up with the well-known Harkerville single track, before heading back to Knysna via the scenic Brackenhill Falls.
Aside from podium prizes, riders stand to win R50 000 worth of RE:CM unit trusts, as well as other giveaways, in a raffle which benefits the Knysna Sports School.