An overcast and humid day greeted the world’s top riders as they lined up at the start in Stellenbosch. Thousands of spectators surrounded the 4.4km track to add to the vibe whilst the racing proved to be top notch.
Against all odds and expectations New Zealand’s Sam Gaze managed to beat the defending champion Nino Schurter with Maxime Marotte (France) rounding out the podium.
The race got off to a flying start with Schurter taking the early lead closely followed by Gaze and another Kiwi, Anton Cooper. During the second lap however, Gaze made his first move to pass Schurter with Cooper and Marotte fighting over third. Later on the same lap Schurter passed Gaze with the cyclo-cross superstar Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) moving into third. Van der Poel surprised all by moving up close to 30 spots in one lap to show he means business.
During the third lap Gaze and Schurter swapped positions more than once which kept the thousands of fans on their feet. A tactical game of cat and mouse ensued as the leaders searched for opportunities to pass while Van der Poel and Marotte were also enjoying their own battle for third and fourth.
Frenchman Marotte managed to surge ahead and find himself in second for some time before Gaze blew past him as he locked onto Schurter’s back wheel. At this stage Van der Poel was riding alone in fourth position.
The last lap was full of action as Schurter managed to lead only to be overtaken at the halfway point by Gaze on a grassy section. Composure, power and patience proved enough in the end as Gaze came out victorious during the blistering sprint finish.
Ninety-nine riders started the elite men’s race with the highest-placed South African being Stuart Marais who finished in 75th.
The Elite Women’s race was won by Annika Langvad after she managed to beat Pauline Ferrand-Prevot to the line. The two riders were involved in tense battle throughout but Langvad proved too good as she took overall honours.
The U23-women’s race was claimed by Denmark’s Malene Degn with the Swiss Sina Frei in second and Evie Richards finishing third.
Norway’s Petter Fagerhaug claimed top honours in the men’s U23 race with New Zealand’s Ben Oliver and Nello Perrin_Garnier finishing second and third respectively.
For more info log onto https://worldcupstellenbosch.com/