Imbuko Giant Claw Back Seconds and Set-Up for Cape Pioneer Trek’s Queen Stage
Stage 4 of the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen, was the longest of the race, as it took the teams from Louvain to Oudtshoorn; on Thursday, 7 September. Despite the day’s length and significant drama on the trails after 90 kilometres, the stage came down to a four-team sprint finish on the Langenhoven Gymnasium fields, which Imbuko Giant A won. In the UCI women’s race, the Efficient Infiniti Insure team were victorious once again, and are now well on course to achieve a perfect clean sweep of stage wins.
The 90-kilometre stage, began in cold conditions at Louvain, in the Langkloof. With climbing from the off, the teams warmed up fast and once in the Klein Karoo the thermostat rose, to a balmy 25 degrees Celsius. In total the route included 1 650 metres of climbing, which came in steep bursts on loose and rocky surfaces. It was the rocky descents that caused more problems, however.
Imbuko Giant A’s Marco Joubert and Wessel Botha lead the UCI men’s field up the day’s first climb, whittling the front group down to the top seven general classification teams. These teams were the yellow First Ascent jersey wearers, their Imbuko Giant B team, Insect Science 1 and 2, Trek SA, the Valley Electrical Toyota and Valley Electrical Titan. On the descent that followed Arno du Toit punctured.
“It was just starting to level out and as I relaxed a bit, I must have hit a rock,” the Insect Science rider explained. “Fortunately, Herman [Fourie] and Alan [Gordon] were right there and we did a pretty quick wheel change with them.” They still had a 15-kilometre chase to regain contact with the group.
“After Insect Science punctured Pieter [du Toit] went to the front to keep the pace high,” Botha stated. “We didn’t want to make the chase too easy for them, especially with a big day coming up tomorrow.” Pieter du Toit and his teammate, Rudi Koen, were the next to lose contact with the group, when Koen punctured.
Like Arno du Toit earlier, Koen punctured in a non-technical moment between rocky stretches of road. Unlike the Insect Science team before Imbuko Giant B was unable to rejoin the group, due to the teams ahead working together to prevent Joubert and Botha gaining strength in numbers. The only other team to miss the opportunity to sprint for stage victory was the Trek SA combination. Kai von During and Justin Chesterton lost contact on a short sandy climb and rode the final 30 kilometers agonisingly out of touch with the now four-team strong lead group.
“We did this finish last year and I knew that getting down the driveway and onto the field was the key,” Botha noted. “I managed to lead in and though Gert [Heyns] was behind me, Marco was between him and the Insect Science team with Tristan [Nortje] behind them. That gave us a relatively comfortable win.”
The win gave Imbuko Giant an additional 2 seconds in their battle against Valley Electrical Toyota and Insect Science. Joubert and Botha lead Heyns and Nortje by 30 seconds heading into the penultimate stage, with Arno du Toit and Keagan Bontekoning by 2 minutes and 4 seconds. Van During and Chesterton, despite finishing fifth on the stage maintained their fourth position overall, ahead of Rossouw Bekker and Matthew Keyser, of Valley Electrical Titan Racing, who finished fourth on the day, closing out the sprint.
In the UCI women’s race, the drama was confined to the battle for third. Up front, Kim le Court and Samantha Sanders continued their march to overall victory with their fifth stage win of the race. Behind them Sarah Hill and Hayley Smith were second once again, 13 minutes down on first, but nearly as far ahead of the fight for third.
Third was once again contested by a group of UCI women’s teams. Initially, the Echo Pentest Ladies joined the battle against Team Biogen, Bike Park Uitsig – SCR Academy, Specialized Experience Centre and the Elements squads. Sadly, that race’s defining moment was a horror crash for Mandi Augustyn. After being bucked onto her front wheel by an erosion channel the Elements rider went down hard, breaking her wrist and suffering a concussion.
She was transported to the hospital for treatment and had surgery to set her wrist on Thursday afternoon. The thoughts and best wishes, for a speedy recovery, of the race organizers and her fellow competitors are with Augustyn.
Following Augustyn’s crash, the Specialized Experience Centre and Echo Pentest Ladies lost contact with the group, leaving Biogen, Bike Park Uitsig – SCR Academy to battle it out for stage honors. “There was a lot of district gravel road today, so it was nice to race with Ila [Stow] and Robyn [Williams] for most of the day,” Kelsey van Schoor said. “The sprint, for third, itself was a bit long for my liking. We probably went a bit early, but Karla [Stumpf] and I got into the corners and over the bridge onto the field first, which allowed us to take it on the line.”
The day’s result sees the Efficient Infiniti Insure team extend their general classification lead to 52 minutes and 26 seconds. For their part team Vivovita-Bell is nearly 50 minutes ahead of Biogen, in third. Biogen’s 1 hour, 41 minutes and 23-second deficit is 11 minutes better than Bike Park Uitsig – SCR Academy in fourth. Team Specialized Experience Centre is a further 7 minutes back in fifth.
Stage 5 is the Queen Stage of the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Cape Pioneer Trek, presented by Biogen. It takes in 2 300 metres of climbing, in 84 kilometres, and finishes atop the Swartberg Pass. There is racing to be done before the pass too, however, with challenging climbs in Wildehondekloof, in particular, helping add to the day’s total elevation gain.
Stage 4 | Men’s Results
- Imbuko Giant A: Marco Joubert & Wessel Botha (3:15:59)
- Insect Science 1: Arno du Toit & Keagan Bontekoning (3:16:01 | +0:02)
- Valley Electrical Toyota: Gert Heyns & Tristan Nortje (3:16:01 | + 0:02)
Stage 4 | Women’s Results
- Efficient Infinity Insure: Kim le Court & Samantha Sanders (4:01:24)
- Vivovita-Bell: Sarah Hill & Hayley Smith (4:14:29 | +13:05)
- Biogen: Karla Stumpf & Kelsey van Schoor (4:27:06 | +25:42)
Men’s General Classification after Stage 4
- Imbuko Giant A: Marco Joubert & Wessel Botha (12:00:54)
- Valley Electrical Toyota: Gert Heyns & Tristan Nortje (12:01:24 | +0:30)
- Insect Science 1: Arno du Toit & Keagan Bontekoning (12:02:58 | +2:04)
Women’s General Classification after Stage 4
- Efficient Infinity Insure: Kim le Court & Samantha Sanders (15:04:46)
- Vivovita-Bell: Sarah Hill & Hayley Smith (15:57:02 | +52:26)
- Biogen: Karla Stumpf & Kelsey van Schoor (16:45:59 | +1:41:23)
To view the full results click here.