The second edition of the McGregor Wines Race2Nowhere took place on Saturday 8 December. The field across the 112km Epic Challenge (with 2550m of climbing) and a 65km Mini Epic (1500m ascent) was made up of 225 riders and conditions were perfect.
At the sharp end of the field in the ultra-distance race, it was a two-horse race from the first climb, with Sebastian Stark and Robert Hobson leaving everyone else in their dust. “I didn’t have much of a plan except that I wanted to avoid to start out too fast,” eventual winner Stark explained.
“Apparently everybody was a little bit afraid of the distance and everyone started quite slowly. Robert Hobson set the pace at the first climb and we lost the other competitors there,” he said.
According to Stark, he and Hobson worked well together from there with Robert being the stronger of the two on the climbs. “He opened a gap several times, which I was always able to close in the downhills,” Stark said. “Luckily the final kilometers were a downhill and I was able to gain the decisive advantage there.”
Craig Gerber rounded out the men’s podium, some 20 minutes after the first two riders.
Stark was well chuffed with the unexpected win and was full of praise for the trails. “I enjoyed them a lot, although I found it a challenge to stay focused in the trails towards the end of the race,” he said.
In the women’s race, Jennie Stenerhag made a welcome return to racing after sustaining an injury at the MTB Challenge in March, which put her out for most of the season, by winning in convincing fashion. She won in a time of 05:13, finishing in 11th place overall. Stenerhag was visibly happy to be back to her winning ways and echoed Stark’s sentiments about the quality of the trails. “It was very nice,” she said. “Very challenging for sure, but long sections of beautiful singletrack. In fact it felt like there were more open roads than the pervious year, so I actually enjoyed it even more.”
“The weather was perfect for racing,” she added. “It was overcast, so didn’t get too warm at all.”
Nix Walker finished second, with Liezel Jordaan in third.
In the 65km Mini Epic, Robyn Assad won ahead of Adel Jeppe and Mare Malherbe, while Robin Harris took the men’s title, followed by Mark Barnard and Michael Dundulkis in third. Full results available here www.race2nowhere.co.za/results.