Top MTB riders Bullish in Knysna ahead of Cape Epic

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Solo winner Dylan Rebello and team winners Alan Gordon and Timothy Hammond of Team Insect Science share a muddy smile at the Knysna Waterfront finish.

Timothy Hammond and Alan Gordon (Team Insect Science) were the first team home on the final stage of the Knysna Bull made personal by Constantia Insurance. The pair pipped solo rider Dylan Rebello to the line in a sprint finish to the Knysna Waterfront in a time of 2:30:12. Rebello, having crossed the line first on Stage 1 and 2, comfortably won the solo category, with Hammond and Gordon winners of the team category. 

The final two stages of the four-day event (an evening Prologue through Knysna set the tone) took place in tough and tiring muddy conditions, which most riders were happy with as they ride the Knysna Bull in preparation for the upcoming Absa Cape Epic. 

“It’s a good test before the Epic,” said Hammond. “It’s my first race of the year, so it’s nice to have a sense of where I am in terms of preparation.”

With solo and team entries allowed, Hammond and Gordon had the unique experience of chasing solo rider Rebello for three days, finally getting the better of him on Stage 3. “Dylan is in great shape. He’s going to be very strong at this year’s Epic. We chased him a bit, but most of the time we were marking Erik (Kleinhans) and Rob (Hobson).”

The racing on Stage 3 started off slowly, with Team Insect Science, Rebello and Canyon Topeak/ETW (Kleinhans and Hobson) all together. Kleinhans punctured badly, leaving Hammond, Gordon and Rebello alone in the front through the thick Knysna forest. 

“Once we lost Erik and Rob we just enjoyed a steady tempo ride to the finish, and then came the final sprint for the line,” said Hammond. “We’re very happy with the result in testing conditions. Apart from the mud, the route itself was incredible. All three days have been great, but riding in the Knysna forest was fantastic. It’s incredibly dense in there, and the sounds of the forest make it feel really special.”

In the ladies solo category Theresa Ralph was dominant all weekend, while 2017 Cape Epic champion Jennie Stenerhag was in cruise control in the mixed category alongside partner Craig Gerber (Team Cape Brewing Company).

Stenerhag was also in Knysna to test her racing legs. “It’s been a very good weekend of riding and racing,” said Stenerhag. “The Knysna Bull is excellent preparation for the Cape Epic. The timing is right, plus you can ride really hard here but without destroying yourself completely. We actually rode really fast, faster than I normally would, so I would say this event is also good for your speed training. Overall, it’s a fantastic four days and three stages on the bike. The route through the Knysna forest is very special.”

Also in attendance at the Knysna Bull was sports scientist and coach to the cycling stars, Mike Posthumus, riding with Derrin Smith (Team William Simpson). He concurs that the event is a challenging three stages, and an ideal test of racing intensity for riders wanting to push themselves. “I thoroughly enjoyed that. We rode hard, got a good feel for our race pace, and had a great time too. This is an excellent race.”

Organiser Pax Mosterd said the comments from racers and riders showed that the event was on the right track. “We really want to put on a special event,” said Mosterd. “We have a great daily finish at the Knysna Waterfront, there are no tents, and generally it is a very relaxed atmosphere – but the racing is tough if you want it to be, or the riding is as relaxed as you want it to be. Harkerville and the Knysna forest are beautiful locations, and to hear people raving about riding through the forest makes us very happy. We hope to see everyone back next year, and maybe some new faces too.”

Knysna Bull final results

Solo Men 
1 Dylan Rebello 8:05:32
2 Robert Sim 8:59:20
3 Martin Cilliers 9:17:56

Team Men
1 Alan Gordon and Timothy Hammond (Team Insect Science) 8:13:02.310
2 Aidan Connelly and Rogan and Smart (Bike Shop – Scott – Strocam) 8:37:15
3 Derrin Smith and Mike Postuhumus (William Simpson) 8:43:35

Mixed
1 Jennie Stenerhag and Craig Gerber (Team Cape Brewing Company) 9:11:56
2 Jeannie Dreyer and Martin Dreyer (Team Merchants) 9:26:18
3 Nicky Giliomee and Tony Haralambous (Crank and Crankier) 10:28:47

Solo Ladies
1 Theresa Ralph 10:23:32
2 Nickey Botes 12:06:36
3 Megan Lloyd 12:24:09