Imbuko {type}DEV’s Marco Joubert and Pieter du Toit went on a long-range attack on the Queen Stage of the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen. Saturday’s Stage 3 was the longest of the race, but that did not stop the eventual stage winners from attempting a brave assault. The women’s stage winners, Ghost Factory Racing Cappuccino, added a third successive victory to their haul, adding a further 11 minutes to their general classification lead.

The 98 kilometre stage featured 2 200 metres of climbing and provided the sternest test of the event, on paper. It also provided opportunities of aggressive racing and the terrain for mechanicals. While Joubert and Pieter du Toit did the former, the latter befell Tristan Nortje.

Pieter du Toit and Marco Joubert’s early break might not have earned them the King of the Mountain prize but they nonetheless recovered to win the stage. Photo by Oakpics.com.

“It wasn’t a puncture exactly,” Nortje explained. “I think a rock hit the valve, because it went flat before the Old Gydo descent. We stopped and bombed it, then had to nurse it to the first tech zone where I changed wheels.”

With the leaders struggling on the side of the trail Imbuko {type}DEV took risks on the descent into the Ceres valley. Hitting the bottom with a lead over PYGA Euro Steel and Insect Science, Joubert and Pieter du Toit forged on. “That section you can only really go so fast, so I wasn’t surprised that nobody caught us,” Pieter du Toit pointed out.

“There used to be a nice district road section leading to water point 2, but this year it was changed to a rough jeep track!” Pieter du Toit added. “I started suffering there and just kept suffering!”

Tristan Nortje’s puncture meant that he and Matt Beers had to chase the group which contained the PYGA Euro Steel and Insect Science teams, as well Wessel Botha of Imbuko {type}DEV 2. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Near the summit of Theronsberg Pass, with 30 kilometres to race, disaster struck Philip Buys. As had happened at the Momentum Medical Scheme Attakwas Extreme, presented by Biogen, the PYGA Euro Steel man’s freehub broke. Unlike in the first race of the season he was able to fix the problem, though it cost him and Alex Miller 10 minutes.

Up the road Nortje and Beers were increasing the intensity of their pursuit of Joubert and Pieter du Toit. Once the Toyota Specialized riders had Imbuko {type}DEV in their sights it was clear that they would reel the attackers in. The men in the yellow First Ascent leaders jerseys made the catch half way up the climb before surging clear to win the King of the Mountain hotspot prize.

On the descent that followed both Imbuko {type}DEV and Insect Science caught Toyota Specialized. Despite Nortje sliding out and going down hard the stage concluded with a sprint finish. “Keagan [Bontekoning] made a bit of a mistake on the last corner,” Pieter du Toit said. “I snuck passed and we hang on for the win. After all the hard work it was great to get the win today.”

Matt Beers and Tristan Nortje climbed their way into the lead and to the King of the Mountain prize on the fabled Merino Monster. Photo by Oakpics.com.

The stage victory allowed Joubert and Pieter du Toit to add a further 2 seconds to their advantage over Bontekoning and Arno du Toit. Nortje and Beers conceded 10 seconds to the stage winners. As a result Toyota Specialized hold a 4 minute and 34 second lead heading into the final stage. Imbuko {type}DEV are second, 4 seconds up on Insect Science.

On the descent off the summit of the Merino Monster the top three teams came back together, setting the stage up for a sprint finish. Photo by Oakpics.com.

In the women’s race the Ghost Factory Racing teams continued their perfect race. The Cappuccino and Flat White charged through the early kilometres together, building a buffer to Efficient Insure Infiniti and KMC MTB Racing. After water point 1, at the 35 kilometre mark, Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller upped the tempo; dropping Isla Short and Caroline Bohe. While the women in the pink First Ascent leaders’ jerseys charged on, the women in second maintained a steady tempo which their rivals were unable to match.

Thus, Short and Bohe’s second position was never under threat. While up the road Terpstra and Koller were climbing to the Queen of the Mountain hotspot prize. “I like the steady efforts so the climb was fun and the views from up there were amazing,” Koller smiled. “Anne [Terpstra] was so fast on the trails too, it was great racing with her again today.”

Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller won their third successive stage of the race on the Queen Stage, after also adding the Queen of the Mountain prize to their haul of prizes at the 2023 race. Photo by Oakpics.com.

The Ghost Factory Racing Cappuccino team added a third stage win to their Queen of the Mountain prize. Behind them the Flat White team were a comfortable second, while Samantha Sanders had a tough day in the saddle. The former South African marathon champion could not match Janika Loiv and Yana Belomoina on the day and Efficient Insure Infiniti gave up not only third place on the stage but on the general classification too.

Going into Stage 4 Terpstra and Koller lead, overall, by 16 minutes and 9 seconds. Short and Bohe are second, with Loiv and Belomoina third, at 40 minutes and 21 seconds. Amy Wakefield and Sanders are 1 minute and 8 seconds behind the women who seized the final podium position going into the last stage.

Ghost Factory Racing’s Cappuccino and Flat White continued their dominant ride through the race, completing their third 1-2 finish. Photo by Oakpics.com.

With podiums very much to play for Stage 4 of the 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, will be fiercely contested. The 55 kilometre route includes 960 metres of climbing, it should be fast and punchy; taking in many of Kaleo’s great but rocky singletrack. With rocky trails being the order of the day again for Sunday the leaders will have to watch out for punctures.

Mountain biking fans can follow the action from the final stage at @tankwatrek on Twitter, for updates from the race. Alternatively one could watch along on the @tankwatrek Instagram and Tankwa Trek Facebook stories. Race highlights and photo galleries will also be posted to Instagram and Facebook later in the day.

KMC MTB Racing’s Janika Loiv and Yana Belomoina rode to their first podium of the race on Stage 3. Photo by Oakpics.com.

Results: 2023 Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen

Elite Men Stage 3:

  1. Imbuko {type}DEV: Marco Joubert & Pieter du Toit (04:13:30)
  2. Insect Science 1: Keagan Bontekoning & Arno du Toit (04:13:32 | +02)
  3. Toyota Specialized: Matt Beers & Tristan Nortje (04:13:40 | +10)
  4. Bulls Mavericks: Alban Lakata & Axel Roudil Cortinat (04:24:22 | +10:52)
  5. KMC MTB Racing: Martins Blūms & David Nordman (04:24:44 | +11:14)

 

Elite Women Stage 3:

  1. Ghost Factory Cappuccino: Anne Terpstra & Nicole Koller (05:02:43)
  2. Ghost Factory Flat White: Isla Short & Caroline Bohe (05:13:54 | +11:11)
  3. KMC MTB Racing: Janika Loiv & Yana Belomoina (05:19:29 | +16:46)
  4. Efficient Insure Infiniti: Amy Wakefield & Samantha Sanders (05:30:31 | +27:48)
  5. #SheUntamed: Sarah Hill & Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius (05:33:12 | +30:29)

The Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, elite men’s general classification, after Stage 2 (from left to right): Marco Joubert and Pieter du Toit (Imbuko {type}DEV 1), Matt Beers and Tristan Nortje (Toyota Specialized), and Keagan Bontekoning and Arno du Toit (Insect Science). Photo by Oakpics.com.

Elite Men’s General Classification after Stage 3:

  1. Toyota Specialized: Matt Beers & Tristan Nortje (08:48:49)
  2. Imbuko {type}DEV: Marco Joubert & Pieter du Toit (08:53:23 | +4:34)
  3. Insect Science 1: Keagan Bontekoning & Arno du Toit (08:53:27 | +4:38)
  4. PYGA Euro Steel: Philip Buys & Alex Miller (09:01:38 | +12:49)
  5. KMC MTB Racing: Martins Blūms & David Nordman (09:05:43 | +16:54)

Elite Women’s General Classification after Stage 3:

  1. Ghost Factory Cappuccino: Anne Terpstra & Nicole Koller (10:29:17)
  2. Ghost Factory Flat White: Isla Short & Caroline Bohe (10:45:26 | +16:09)
  3. KMC MTB Racing: Janika Loiv & Yana Belomoina (11:09:38 | +40:21)
  4. Efficient Insure Infiniti: Amy Wakefield & Samantha Sanders (11:10:46 | +41:29)
  5. #SheUntamed: Sarah Hill & Elrika Harmzen-Pretorius (11:29:15 | +59:58)

The Momentum Medical Scheme Tankwa Trek, presented by Biogen, elite women’s general classification, after Stage 2 (from left to right): Caroline Bohe and Isla Short (Ghost Factory Flat White), Anne Terpstra and Nicole Koller (Ghost Factory Cappuccino) and Yana Belomoina and Janika Loiv (KMC MTB Racing). Photo by Oakpics.com.

For more information visit www.tankwatrek.co.za.