Brandon Stewart and Konny Looser retain narrow lead on Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek Mountain Bike Race

Also view: Mountain Bike safety and Riding the Trail

The front group splashes through a water crossing early on during Stage 3 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek on Wednesday. Photo by Zoon Cronje

Team FedGroup Itec’s Brandon Stewart (RSA) and Konny Looser (SUI) lost all but eight seconds of their more-than-five-minute overnight lead, while Asrin Cycling’s James Reid (RSA) and Jens Schuermans (BEL) won a second successive stage on a dramatic Day 4 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek in South Africa on Wednesday.

Looser crashed heavily at 27km into the 107km stage from Price Albert to De Rust, damaging his rear wheel and his suspension fork in the process. He also sustained hip, knee and ankle injuries. Team FedGroup’s rivals charged on in an effort to take back time on the race leaders, who managed to narrowly retain the race lead with three stages remaining.

Team FedGroup Itec's Brandon Stewart (left) helps teammate Konny Looser repair his rear wheel after a crash early on during Stage 3 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek on Wednesday. Photo by Zoon Cronje

Reid and Schuermans, winners of the event’s mountain-top finish queen stage on Tuesday, delivered a snappy final dash from a lead bunch of nine to secure the stage victory in a time of 03 hours 57 minutes 04 seconds. Contego Giant Factory Racing’s Gert Heyns (RSA) and Louis Bresler Knipe (RSA) finished second with Team RE:CM’s Waylon Woolcock (RSA) and Erik Kleinhans (RSA) taking third.

Losing time steadily despite a courageous 80km chase, Stewart and Looser managed to cross the line in eighth, 05:16 down, maintaining their yellow jersey grasp by just eight seconds over Woolcock and Kleinhans. Reid and Schuermans are still third overall 08:34 back.

Gawie Combrink and Waylon Woolcock lead the front group through the Meiringspoort towards the end of Stage 3 from Prince Albert to De Rust at the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek on Wednesday. Photo by Zoon Cronje

Team RE:CM Davinci’s Ariane Kleinhans (SUI) and Annika Langvad (DEN) extended their lead in the women’s race, by winning the stage – their fourth in succession – by over 12 minutes, confirming their utter dominance of the event.

They now lead Stage 3 runners-up Wheeler BMC’s Esther Suss (SUI) and Jane Nuessli (GBR) by 41:32, with Biogen SA’s Robyn de Groot (RSA) and Ischen Stopforth (RSA) in third another half an hour behind.

“I’m disappointed that our rivals took advantage of our misfortune today, especially so early in the stage. But Konny showed some true grit to fight through the pain with a damaged bike and we live to fight another day in yellow. That was an unexpectedly tough day out,” said Stewart.

“I hit a rock that a rider in front of me must have dislodged and went over the handlebars. I fell really hard on my left side but with the other teams racing on I had no time to worry about injuries. My wheel would have taken a long time to repair and luckily a German team saw our situation and gave us one of theirs back wheel to help us get going again,” said Looser, who sustained serious bruising in the fall.

FedGroup Itec's Konny Looser and Brandon Stewart, wearing the race leaders' yellow jerseys, lead the field out of Prince Albert on Stage 3 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek on Wednesday. Photo by Zoon Cronje

The first Mixed team home on Wednesday was Cube Nutswerk MTB’s Birgit Lavrijssen (NED) and Marco Minnaard (NED), who managed to displace overnight leaders and stage runners-up, Asrin Cycling 3’s Jennie Stenerhag (SWE) and Craig Gerber (RSA), from the top of the General Classification.

In the Veteran’s division, Klein Karoo Vets’ Wynand Mulder (RSA) and Gerrie Beukes (RSA) claimed their first stage win and moved from third to second in the overall race. They beat overall leaders, Cube Nutswerk 2’s Micha de Vries (NED) and Rik van den Hanenberg (NED) by 3:41, but trail the Dutchmen by more than an hour in the General Classification.

The Masters’ category saw the continued dominance of Wilde 3’s Izak Visagie (RSA) and Lieb Loots (RSA) with their fourth successive stage win, which saw them stretch their overall lead to 1 hour 23 minutes over Stone Hammer’s Malcolm Dods (GBR) and Wizner Zbigniew (SWE).

Adriaan Louw (RSA) claimed the Solo men’s division stage win on Wednesday and increased his overall lead, while Bettina Uhlig (GER) won the Solo women’s stage, closing down Kate Slegrova’s (RSA) overall lead to just over three minutes.

At 70km, Thursday’s Stage 4 from De Rust to Herold is a short haul, but with 1950 metres of ascent and sections of very rough terrain through the Kammanassie Mountains, it’s extremely tough.

Women's race leaders, team RE:CM Davinci's Annika Langvad (front) and Ariane Kleinhans, tackle a descent during Stage 3 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek on Wednesday. Photo by Zoon Cronje

Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek
Stage 3: 107km from Prince Albert to De Rust:
Open men
1 Asrin Cycling – James Reid (RSA); Jens Scheurmans (BEL) 03hr57min04sec
2 Contego Giant Factory Racing – Gert Heyns (RSA); Louis Bresler Knipe (RSA) @ 01
3 RE:CM – Waylon Woolcock (RSA); Erik Kleinhans (RSA) @ 02
4 SCOTT Factory Racing – Philip Buys (RSA); Matthys Beukes (RSA) @ 07
5 Westvaal Bells Cycling – Nico Bell (RSA); Gawie Combrinck (RSA) @ 12

Open Women
1 RE:CM Davinci – Ariane Kleinhans (SUI); Annika Langvad (DEN) 04:26:08
2 Wheeler – BMC – Jane Neussli (GBR); Esther Suss (SUI) @ 12:22
3 Klein Karoo Chicks – Yolande de Villiers (RSA); Yolande Speedy (RSA) @ 12:42

Mixed
1 Cube Nutswerk MTB – Birgit Lavrijssen (NED); Marco Minnaard 4:31:29
2 Asrin Cycling 2 – Nizaam Esa (RSA); Catherine Williamson (GBR) @ 3:14
3 Asrin Cycling 3 – Jennie Stenerhag (SWE); Craig Gerber @ 4:23

Veteran
1 Klein Karoo Vets – Wynand Mulder (RSA); Gerrie Beukes (RSA) 4:17:07
2 Cube Nutswerk 2 – Micha de Vries (NED); Rik Van den Hanenberg (NED) @ 3:41
3 Cannondale Blend Vets – Martin Epstein (RSA); Stefano Madies (RSA) @ 14:52

Master
1 Wilde 3 – Izak Visagie (RSA); Lieb Loots (RSA) 04:38:53
2 Bridge Masters 1 – Con Malherbe (RSA); Greg Anderson (RSA) @ 1:30
3 Stone Hammer – Malcolm Dods (GBR); Wizner Zbigniew (SWE) @ 3:40

Amateur
1 Klein Karoo Express – Kobus Barnard (RSA); Cornelius Muller (RSA) 04:22:33
2 Scott Saffa Power – George Nel (RSA); Franso Steyn (RSA) @ 5:56
3 Contego Giant 2 – Sakkie Hannekom (RSA); Hannes Hannekom (RSA) @ 7:08

Solo men
1 Adriaan Louw (RSA) @ 04:02:21
2 Craig Boyes (RSA) @ 4:43
3 Darren Lill (RSA) @ 11:47

Solo women
1 Bettina Uhlig (GER) 04:42:14
2 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) @ 18:08
3 Kate Slegrova (RSA) @ 18:14

General classification after Stage 3
Open men
1 FedGroup Itec – Brandon Stewart (RSA); Konny Looser (SUI) 12:38:47
2 RE:CM – Waylon Woolcock (RSA); Erik Kleinhans (RSA) @ 08
3 Asrin Cycling – James Reid (RSA); Jens Scheurmans (BEL) @ 8:34
4 SCOTT Factory Racing – Philip Buys (RSA); Matthys Beukes (RSA) @ 21:25
5 Westvaal Bells Cycling – Nico Bell (RSA); Gawie Combrinck (RSA) @ @ 32:39

Open women
1 RE:CM Davinci – Ariane Kleinhans (SUI); Annika Langvad (DEN) 14:16:33
2 Wheeler – BMC – Jane Neussli (GBR); Esther Suss (SUI) @ 41:32
3 Biogen SA – Ischen Stopforth (RDSA); Robyn de Groot (RSA) @ 1:13:20

Mixed
1 Cube Nutswerk MTB – Birgit Lavrijssen (NED); Marco Minnaard 15:21:44
2 Asrin Cycling 3 – Jennie Stenerhag (SWE); Craig Gerber @ 3:53
3 Bridge Peptosport – Gerhard Ebersohn (RSA); Christine Jansen van Rensburg (RSA) @ 1:24:03

Veteran
1 Cube Nutswerk 2 – Micha de Vries (NED); Rik Van den Hanenberg (NED) 09:49:20
2 Cannondale Blend Vets – Martin Epstein (RSA); Stefano Madies (RSA) @ 1:12:05
3 Klein Karoo Vets – Wynand Mulder (RSA); Gerrie Beukes (RSA) @ 1:18:14

Master
1 Wilde 3 – Izak Visagie (RSA); Lieb Loots (RSA) 10:11:03
2 Stone Hammer – Malcolm Dodds (RSA); Wizner Zbigniew (RSA) @ 1:19:27
3 Brug Meesters – Charles Nienaber (RSA); Ergee du Toit (RSA) @ 1:26:07

Amateur
1 Contego Giant 2 – Sakkie Hannekom (RSA); Hannes Hannekom (RSA) 14:43:27
2 Scott Saffa Power – George Nel (RSA); Franso Steyn (RSA) @ 9:22
3 Kivada Schorriemorrie – Ninko Doornbos (NED); Coen Hoogervorst (NED) @ 56:28

Solo men
1 Adriaan Louw (RSA) @ 13:22:05
2 Craig Boyes (RSA) @ 42:52
3 Tomas Kozak (CZE) @ 54:57

Solo women
1 Kate Slegrova 17:11:17
2 Bettina Uhlig (GER) @ 3:16
3 Dalene van der Leek (RSA) @ 4:43

For full Stage 3 and overall results, visit www.capepioneer.co.za. For images, visit Facebook: Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek.

Team Asrin Cycling's Jens Schuermans (left) and James Reid celebrate their victory on Stage 3 of the Bridge Cape Pioneer Trek on Wednesday. Photo by Zoon Cronje
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