Elite field to do battle at the Trans Baviaans
JUST over 1 250 riders will line up for the 15th edition of the 230km Trans Baviaans Race on Saturday, August 11 - the toughest team single stage MTB race in the world.
The 2018 field of favourites includes defending champion and current record holder Ti-mothy Hammond, South African marathon champion Gert Heyns, the perennial nearly men of the Trans Baviaans Hanco Kachelhoffer and Pieter Seyffert, the 2017 dark horses Hansie Joubert and Jaco Ferreira, and a series of experienced campaigners including Riccardo Stermin, Adreas Studer, Mike Posthumus, Derrin Smith and Ben Melt Swanepoel.
Given their recent results it is hard to look past Gert Heyns and Arno du Toit, who will be riding as DSV Pro Cycling, for the title of favourites.
Heyns, who was crowned South African marathon champion in July, has ridden the Trans Baviaans before, but only socially, while his teammate Du Toit is making his debut.
A pair who calmly own the pre-race favou-rites tag are the Insect Science/Garmin team of Tim Hammond and Swanepoel.
Jaco Ferreira and Hansie Joubert showed that last year when they nearly rode back to us in the final 20km’s” Hammond elaborated.
A quartet who know all about the challenges of managing the physical, psychological and especially mechanical difficulties of the race as a team are the Ellsworth ASG squad of Kachelhoffer, Seyffert, Armand Swanepoel and HB Kruger. Three of the four completed the Trans Baviaans together last year and the addition of HB Kruger, who has been selected to represent South Africa at the Marathon World Championships in September, has further strengthened the team.
The 2017 runners-up Hansie Joubert and Jaco Ferreira come into the race with more attention focused on them, but also with more experience and better preparation.
Hoping to exploit their experience and route knowledge to the full will be the PowerBar team of Riccardo Stermin and Andreas Studer. The pair has won the Repeat multiple times over the last few years, but work sche-dules have never allowed them to match themselves against the more competitive field of the race.
Another fascinating battle within the race is the one between coach and athlete, which plays out between Mike Posthumus and Gert Heyns.
The Team William Simpson duo of Posthumus and Smith will be eager to out-do the highly regarded sport scientist, Posthumus’s athlete Heyns and his partner Du Toit.
In the women’s race the defending champions Theresa Ralph and Sarah Hill, riding for Galileo Risk, are out to knock an hour off their 2017 winning time. “Trans Baviaans is a magical race that is never the same,” the three time winner Ralph said. “I have experienced a wet Trans, a dry Trans and a very bumpy Trans. All provided their own challenges. It is possibly those jaffles, at check point seven, that keep bringing me back though. This year Sarah (Hill) and I have a goal to better our time by an hour and hopefully we will do that as Sarah has grown from strength to strength over the past year and we will definitely be much faster” she elaborated.
As in the women’s race the mixed category sees one team stand head and shoulders above the rest as race favourites: the Ultimate Cycling Knysna team of Yolande de Villiers and Neill Ungerer.
Racers and riders hoping to simply finish in a good time will be pleased to know that the weather conditions for the Trans Baviaans Race are looking advantageous for a fast time. There is no rain predicted throughout the event; while in Willowmore and the Baviaanskloof the expected temperatures range from 5 to 17 degrees centigrade, with a light to gentle breeze from the north west blowing throughout the morning and afternoon.
In the evening once the teams have crossed into the coastal region approaching Jeffreys Bay the mercury is predicted to read between 18-14 degrees, with a light tail wind blowing from the north east.
Mountain biking fanatics can follow the action, as it unfolds live, on the race’s social media handles and the event website at www.transbaviaans.co.za.