Belgian celebrates birthday with stage win
Belgian Eddy Feliers celebrated his 49th birthday in style as he and teammate Kristof de Neys took the stage win on the fifth day of the TransCape mountain bike race between Swellendam and Greyton today.
Riding for Cicero Baik, the European pair led the bunch home for their first stage win in this year’s 690km event, which started in Knysna on Sunday.
Today’s route of 112.5km with about 1 500m of ascent saw comfortable overall leaders Pieter Seyffert and Travis Walker of Ellsworth-ASG take their feet off the pedals somewhat to follow the Belgians over the line.
Feliers and De Neys crossed the line in 4:14:14 to maintain the second fastest overall time of 21:46:26, while the race leaders came home in 4:14:21 (20:34:33).
In third place on the day in 4:21:25 were the RR pair of Ryan Loots and Rodney Stroud. However, the Bromance team of William and David Wertheim Aymes remained third overall on 22:08:37.
The 25-year-old Walker, from Hilton in KwaZulu-Natal, said they had decided to take it slightly easier after winning the first four stages and building up a sizeable lead.
“It was also nice to honour Eddy on his birthday and we spent quite a bit of time with a bunch of riders and enjoyed interacting with them.”
He said the route for the day was fairly straightforward on the country roads, although there were some rough sections with corrugations.
“It was also quite warm today so we have had some real contrast in the weather – two rainy days and three hot days.
“After starting with the bunch we got away at about 30km, but at waterpoint one there were a group of guys just off the back of us and slowly catching up.”
Walker said they stopped at the waterpoints where the bunch would, at times, go ahead of them.
“We would then work hard to catch up with what became a big bunch towards the end, with Eddy and Kristof leading us home.”
The KZN rider said he and the 30-year-old Seyffert, from Helderkruin on the West Rand, were benefiting a good deal from the TransCape experience.
“I’m still feeling 100 per cent, but this has been a very nice training block for us. Although we took it a bit easier today, we have been riding tempo on most days and this will definitely help us for the up-and-coming races.”
Feliers said he was happy to win a stage on his birthday but added he had “suffered a bit” during the stage.
“They said it would be a nice stage but I only saw two things today – my front wheel and the rear wheel of my partner,” he said.
“I just put my head down and ground away. It was hard but I’m a happy man.”
The Belgian said this was his third visit to the TransCape, finishing third overall on his debut and fourth last year.
“We have been second in the first four stages and today we have a stage win, so that is very nice.”
Feliers said they would definitely focus on maintaining their second place overall tomorrow and then “enjoy the last day”.
“I must first recover from today before thinking of coming back,” a tired Feliers, referring to next year’s race, said.
Riding in the mixed category, the Spar team of Catherine Williamson and Hannele Steyn stopped the clock on 4:14:22 for an overall time of 21:55:24.
Ian and Jane Seggie were second in 4:56:22 (26:12:35), with Craig Chidrawi and Charmaine Werdmuller, who finished in 5:21:29 (28:21:26), lying in third.
Billy Stelling finished in 4:14:18 to stay on top of the men’s solo category (22:04:27). Belgian Karl Dossche clocked a time of 4:19:55 to remain second (22:11:36) in the standings, with Alan Tilling in third overall (22:40:00).
In the women’s solo event, Alma Colyn won her fifth stage in a row in 4:21:33 (22:20:20), followed by Mandy Langebrink in 4:56:24 (25:49:19). Chandre Wertheim Aymes occupies third overall (29:09:58).
Tomorrow’s penultimate stage, which is nicknamed “Heaven”, covers a distance of 68km between Greyton and Villiersdorp with 1 700m of climbing.
The seven-day race finishes at the La Couronne Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Saturday.
Caption: The peloton crests a hill on the 112.5km fifth stage of the TransCape mountain bike race from Swellendam to Greyton. The seven-day, 690km journey, which started in Knysna, will end at La Couronne Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Saturday. Photo: Jacques Marais