Rebello reigns at muddy Knysna Bull

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Mud bath Riders battled mud, mud, and some incredibly wet sand in Harkeville forest on Stage 2 of the Knysna Bull made personal by Constantia Insurance.

Solo rider Dylan Rebello got the better once again of the chasing teams at the Knynsa Bull made personal by Constantia Insurance mountain bike race. He was first over the line on Stage 2, with Alan Gordon and Timothy Hammond second on the day, but the first team to finish. 

Overnight rain in Knysna on Friday made Stage 2 of the Knynsa Bull a tough challenge. The mountain bike event in the Garden Route town, now in its second year, is making a name for itself for providing unique race experiences.

After the speedy descending of Stage 1 riders were looking forward to the magic forest of Harkerville. The rain and mud had other ideas, however. Straight from the start at the Harkerville forest station, riders were greeted by slippery puddles of mud. It made for a day of toil and endeavour on the bike for the bulk of the field.

In the beginning, it was a madcap and fast first 20km of Stage 2, with jeep track eventually taking riders into the holy grail of Harkerville singletracks. The revered trails were well protected from the rain, so it was only once the race opened up again on the rolling forestry roads that the mud baths started to come into play. 

Stage 1 solo winner Dylan Rebello was once again first home in a time of 2:50:21, with Alan Gordon and Timothy Hammond (Team Insect Science) the first team to cross the line (2:57:19).

Third on the day, and second team over the line was Erik Kleinhans and Robert Hobson (Canyon Topeak/ETW). Twenty-year-old Hobson is participating in just his second stage race, and is enjoying the experience, particularly the Mitchell’s Brewery Old Wobbly strong lager. On the bike, Kleinhans is taking him through his paces.

“We started slow and just enjoyed the first few kilometres,” said Kleinhans. “We were together with a few teams when I saw Timothy struggle and immediately upped the tempo. We managed to pull away from them and eventually caught Dylan, but as soon as we did, I managed to tear the sidewall of my tyre.” After repairing the torn tyre, Kleinhans then picked up a slow puncture which lead to a crash. “I asked Robert how he was feeling, and we both realised we were tired, so we just chilled and cruised to the end.”

Rebello, who is using the Knysna Bull as a platform to test himself ahead of the Absa Cape Epic and who was in a flat-out frame of mind throughout the day’s racing, powered home.

“I won’t lie, that was tough,” said Rebello after powering through a massive post-ride lunch. “It was very muddy, so it made the ride quite draining. But I’m here to use the event as a measure of Epic strength, so my plan for the three days is to go as hard as I can until I blow. I know the trails well here, so I was always confident that I could shake the chasers if I needed to. I knew where all the ups and downs were, so I pushed super hard going up then got as aero as I could on the descents. I’m feeling good now, and I think with the Epic around the corner I am in good shape.”

In the mixed category, Jennie Stenerhag and Craig Gerber (Team Cape Brewing Company) were comfortable winners on the day and the seventh team across the line. In the solo ladies category, Theresa Ralph was first home in a time of 3:43:00.

“It was a challenging day out there,” said organiser Pax Mosterd, “but the riders were in good spirits after having something to eat. It’s a great experience to ride on these trails; the rain was a pity but I think the field in general is quite strong, so everybody will be looking forward to a fun final day.”