The Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival kicked off with a hugely successful Momentum Weekend Argus Knysna Cycle Tour, presented by Rotary. Race Director Elwin Thompson confirmed that more than 5,000 cyclists participated in the mountain bike and road race events over the two days of the tour, 4 & 5 July.
“The races went off smoothly, thanks to a massive effort and months of hard work from the Rotary members and all the volunteers who assisted in many different ways,” said Thompson.“ “It is very encouraging that the event has shown big growth this year and we are grateful to our wonderful sponsors Momentum and Weekend Argus for their incredible support.”
“We were very lucky with the weather and there was a fantastic vibe at the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival grounds which is the venue for the start and finish of the races. There was a good turnout of spectators who stayed late each evening thanks to the entertainment provided at the grounds.”
Cyclists set off in misty conditions from 08:00 on Saturday morning for the MTB races when the gun was fired by Knysna Executive Mayor, Georlene Wolmarans, but the mist soon lifted and by the time the first riders from the 15 km race crossed the finish line, the sun was shining brightly.
First over the line in the main event of the day, the 80 km MTB, was Matthys Beukes, who is believed to have set a new course record in a time of 2 hours, 52 minutes, 12 seconds. He was followed by Johannes Rabi and Gert Heyns.
Robyn de Groot, was first lady home in 3 hours, 11 minutes, 19 seconds, with Fienie Barnard in second place and Janine Rawlinson in third place. Triple national marathon champion, Robyn, who recently won the RECM Knysna 200 mountain bike race, says she was pleased to be back in Knysna.
“This is my first Oyster Festival mountain bike race and I really enjoyed it. Knysna is a very special place and the weather was fantastic. I always enjoy riding these trails.”
Team Abantu claimed victory in the 109 km road race on Sunday, the second major event of the weekend.
The race was over in just 2 hours, 43 minutes and 57 seconds for winner Nolan Hoffman, with teammate Reynard Butler a hair’s breadth behind him in second. Third was Stefan Ihlenfeldt, recording a time which was just milliseconds behind the two leaders.
Defending ladies champion Anriettte Schoeman who beat Lise Olivier and Carmen Buchacher with a time of 2 hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds, said that she absolutely loves this race. “The hospitality and the vibe are fantastic and that’s why I keep coming back.”
Coordinator of the Spur Rotary Knysna Children’s Tour, Megan Franz, said that feedback about theevent was absolutely fantastic.
“The new routes at the Festival grounds were much applauded even though some parents were rather breathless after following their speedy offspring around the 2.4m course!” said Franz.
“There were over 300 enthusiastic entrants between the ages of 2 and 12, and everyone was a winner, with each child receiving a medal and goodie bag for their efforts.”
Thompson said that the new event, the Forest Family Dam Ride, was a great success. “We limited numbers for this first year and had a great turnout of local and visiting families. We’ve had very positive feedback from riders who participated in this scenic, fun ride in the forest, which is a guided ride stopping at Knysna’s three dams. It will definitely be back on the programme next year.”
Carel Bosman, Sponsorships Manager for Momentum, one of the two naming sponsors of the cycle tour, said that he was delighted with the event. “The layout of the festival grounds this year really created a wonderful vibe. I’m also very pleased that there are so many options for children of all ages, because Momentum is very much about families and it’s great to see them enjoying and participating in the events together. The festival really provides a safe environment for kids to have fun.
“As a sponsor it’s also important that the event is about more than just branding and we were pleased to introduce the Multiply Recovery Zone this year to give our wellness and rewards programme members a quality race experience. The Zone was an area where they could shower after the race, enjoy a good cup of coffee and have some food. Our VIP area was also right on the start/finish line this year and it was a great success. It provided a good opportunity to spend time with our local and visiting clients.
“To be a partner to the Pick n Pay Knysna Oyster Festival is a huge privilege. It is a unique event and one that Momentum is hugely proud of being associated with. The people of Knysna could not be more welcoming. The festival is definitely one for the bucket list.”
The Festival continues to Sunday 12 July 2015.