South Africans HB Kruger and Stuart Marais got the better of Norwegian rivals Eirik Fiskvik and Thomas Engelsgjerd in a gripping battle for stage honours on the fourth day of the Liberty TransCape MTB encounter today.
In a sprint finish to the 106km leg from Riversdale to Swellendam, the ASG-Ellsworth team managed to split the European outfit to get home by two seconds.
Engelsgjerd, riding for Team Happysalmon, crossed the line first in 4:09:58, but was followed a second later by Kruger and Marais.
Fiskvik, was a further two seconds off the pace, giving the European outfit a time of 4:10:01 as the SA pair won their fourth stage in a row.
They also maintained their overall lead, stretching it to 11 minutes after Antonin Marecaille and Julian Biefang (Chiru-Magura-Canyon) came home seven minutes behind the front-runners.
The Norwegians have moved into second place in the general classification, overtaking the French-German combination of Marecaille and Biefang.
Fiskvik said the race leaders managed to get away at about the 70km mark, but technical problems in muddy conditions for Marais saw them close the gap.
“We rode with them to the finish and the aim was to try to beat them in the final sprint. Thomas crossed the line first, but unfortunately for us they were able to get in-between us.”
The Norwegian added that they were delighted to move into second spot in the general classification, but admitted they would have a tough time making up the gap on Kruger and Marais.
“They are definitely the strongest team, but we are very happy with being second overall at this stage.”
In the mixed category, Britain’s Catherine Williamson and Kristof de Neys of Belgium continued to set the pace. The LawPack outfit, who are well ahead overall, came home in 4:49:06.
The fourth edition of the 614km race, supported by STANLIB and Volvo Cars, finishes at La Couronne Wine Estate in Franschhoek on Saturday.
Tomorrow’s 99km leg, known as the Rivers Stage, will take cyclists from Swellendam to Greyton, with much of the riding being done alongside the Breede and Riviersonderend rivers.