Race: Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum MTB Challenge
Stats: 55km, 1500m ascent, Stellenbosch
Full Sus contributor Kate Slegrova was lucky to get one of the 1 000 entries for 2014 Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum MTB Challenge 55km route. The 2014 race was held at a brand new venue at the Le Bonheur wine farm outside Stellenbosch and it formed part of the new Rainbow Series of MTB marathon events too. After complaints about the 2013 route this year Meurant Botha took on the hard task of completely redesigning the race route.
The day started with bit of clouds and light wind, which was a lot better than the scorching heat we experienced on the MTB Challenge in the previous years! I got to the chute just before 7 and was unfortunately right at the back of the first batch. I forgot it’s the Argus and people come 30 minutes early…
Off we went, and the route lead us through a few sandy patches and a bit of climbing in the early phases. Luckily in the first bunch people know how to ride through sand and we didn’t get stuck much. There were some steep climbs but they weren’t too long. The highlight though was a lot of single track!
Part of the route consisted of the new Simonsberg conservancy trails. Some of the singletrack on the Simonsberg had bit of light sand or dust on the surface and I think lot of riders, including me, were running their tyres too hard and didn’t have the best traction.
Amazingly there wasn’t a traffic jam on the singletracks and I didn’t hear any complaints from people that started in the later start groups either! I think the route was really well designed very. There were enough water points, with the water points located at Delvera, Muratie, Delheim, Uitkyk and Warick wine estates and even organised spectator points on the route. The finish was also really busy with spectators and some very nice food stalls.
I chatted to my fellow riders after the ride and everyone was happy and enjoyed the race. Everyone I spoke to seem to have preferred this new venue and route to the old one. If you’re considering doing the MTB Challenge in 2015 it’s worth mentioning though that parking and start was about 1km from the finish, but it’s easy accessible, so it shouldn’t put you off.
I was bit tired after riding two stage races, over the previous two weekends, so I was happy with a top ten finish in ladies race, especially with lot of pros riding! Ariane Kleinhans, outsprinted Mariske Strauss for the victory in the ladies race with the Swedish champ Jennie Stenerhag finishing third.
In the men’s race there was drama when the leading men took a wrong turn allowing Darren Lill and Charles Keey to claim the victory with a rather upset KevinEvans, who was leading the race before the mistake rounding out the podium.
I must thank the Cycle Tour organisers and Meurant Botha for putting on a great race! I’m sure this new route and venue will become popular and hopefully we’ll be at Le Bonheur for the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Momentum MTB Challenge again next year.