MTB World Champ wins Tankwa Trek on debut

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Nino Schurter and Filippo Colombo secured the stage victory on the last day by 13 seconds. (Photo: Ewald Sadie/Shift Media Co.8BIM)
Nino Schurter and Filippo Colombo secured the stage victory on the last day by 13 seconds. (Photo: Ewald Sadie/Shift Media Co.8BIM)
  • His first mountain bike stage race in the Koue Bokkeveld, ended rather well, for Switzerland's most celebrated mountain biker.
  • Nino Schurter showed his power on the final day's racing, illustrating great form in anticipation of the Cape Epic.
  • In the women's field, the victory margin was more than an hour  after four stages of racing.

Established race favourites proved worth their billing by winning the 2022 Tankwa Trek.

In the men's race, the Swiss-Italian duo of Cornércard finished with three stage wins from four. Faces Rola was even more dominant in the women's race, with a clean sweep of stage wins.

Nino Schurter and Filippo Colombo underlined their dominance in the Koue Bokkeveld with a comfortable overall victory on stage 4. Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill found some challenging trails in the women's race on stage 4, but were generally untroubled by their rivals.

mountain bike
Candice Lill and Mariske Strauss spent most of the race riding solo, time trialling to the best possible stage winning times. (Photo: Sage Lee Voges / www.zcmc.co.za.)

Candice and Mariske rode away in the women's race 

"We got away from the rest of the elite women's field pretty early on and decided to just race the last stage as hard as we could," Lill revealed.

"The last stage was anything but easy though. The climbs were punchy and there were a few long sandy stretches. But like a lot of the riding around here there were some amazing rocky trails too. It was tricky, technical and rocky."

Sarah Hill and Theresa Ralph steadily rode into a convincing second position overall. "It was great racing with Sarah again. She's on terrific form at the moment and really took good care of me this weekend," Ralph praised.

With Liv Cycling South Africa standing on the second step of the podium, below Faces Rola, the final spot was claimed by Efficient Insure Infinity Racing. Samantha Sanders finished the four days stronger than she started and can use the event as a solid base from which to launch her return to competitive form.

Sanders and Kim le Court proved a dynamic partnership, which will grow in confidence and results as the year progresses.

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Mariske Strauss and Candice Lill completed a perfect race. Winning the women’s category and Queen of the mountain climb. (Photo: Sage Lee Voges / www.zcmc.co.za.)

Not a Sunday fun ride by any imagination 

There were no free passes in the men's race on the final stage. "It might have looked easy on paper but if definitely wasn't in reality," Wessel Botha puffed after the race.

"Okes were like sharks out there," Matt Beers laughed. "Every time anyone sensed blood the speed doubled. It was a very tough final stage."

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Matt Beer's power on the flats was a constant threat to the leaders. (Photo: Ewald Sadie/Shift Media Co.8BIM)

The pace kept increasing 

Beers played a significant part in making the stage difficult. As did the cross-country specialists, Schurter, Colombo, Alan Hatherly and Simon Andreassen. "It was like an XCO race today," Schurter smiled. "Every climb was full gas and there was no let-up on the descents or flats. Especially when Matt went to the front."

The Swiss star and his teammate even suffered a bizarre mechanical.

"Filippo got a piece of string wrapped up in his rear wheel just as the pace was really starting to increase for the finale. Fortunately, we only lost 20-seconds or so and we were able to close the gap. Then on the final climb, we put in an attack and got a little gap which we could hold through the final singletrack."

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Nino Schurter's prowess put his rivals chasing for much of the race. (Photo: Ewald Sadie/Shift Media Co.)

No matching that Swiss power 

Schurter and Colombo's acceleration could only be followed by Alan Hatherly. The sprint for the minor places behind the stage and race winners thus came down to the Imbuko DEV equipped by Giant team and Simon Andreassen.

"I know Simon is a weapon when it comes to placing himself for a sprint," Hatherly noted. "I was happy to leave him to it and he came through to ensure we claimed second today."

Wessel Botha and Marco Joubert had to settle for third on the stage, but the result was more than good enough to ensure they remained in third overall. Beers and Tristan Nortje slipped a few seconds off the pace in the final kilometres but remained in second on the final general classification.

The Cornércard team's stage winning time was 02:37.7, giving them a victory margin of 00:05.47 over Toyota Specialized. Botha and Joubert were a further 00:06.29 behind Beers and Nortje.

The women's margin of victory underlined Strauss and Lill's dominance. After the four stages, the Faces Rola pair were an hour ahead of Liv Cycling South Africa.

Tankwa Trek
Multiple World Champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot rode the Tankwa Trek socially with her partner, Kilian Bron. (Photo: Ewald Sadie/Shift Media Co.)

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