Momsen Bike’s Dylan Rebello and Team Dorma’s Candice Neethling raced to stage victory on Friday, 17 June 2016, in the first stage of the RECM Knysna 200.
The 71km stage which started in the Knysna Elephant Park and finished on Thesen Island in the heart of Knysna is the first of three stages and sets Rebello up to potentially complete a double having already claimed victory in the Garden Route 300 in February.
The RECM Knysna 200 is renowned for its social atmosphere and while most of the field were revelling in the relaxed 09:00 start time and chilled vibes at the sharp end of the field it was business as usual. Defending champion Nico Pfitzenmaier was in a chirpy mood as he, and Rebello, led the 200 rider strong field through the neutral zone in the Knysna Elephant Park. After the leisurely ride through the neutral zone, where riders were treated to the sight of a herd of elephants within 50 meters of the route, the racing began at the first climb of the day. Rebello and Pfitzenmaier set the early pace, with Shan Wilson the only other rider able to stay with them.
By the first water point at the 15km mark the leading trio had built up a lead of just over two minutes, but in the next phase of the race the famous Petrus-se-Brand trail split up the race. Riding the Petrus-se-Brand trail in reverse Shan Wilson was the first of the leading three to drop off the pace. A rear wheel puncture then separated Pfitzenmaier from Rebello, but the defending champion was able to reel in the young challenger on the ensuing downhill. At the foot of the next climb Rebello made the stage winning move, breaking away from Pfitzenmaier and racing to a superb solo victory. Pfitzenmaier lost further time when he stopped for over a minute at the second water point as he ensured his puncture was properly sealed and his tyre had enough air in it to get him safely to the stage finish.
Rebello completed his stage victory in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 6 seconds, with Pfitzenmaier finishing over ten minutes back in second; in a time of 3 hours three minutes and 23 seconds. Wilson claimed the final podium position for the stage in a time of 3 hours, 5 minutes and 43 seconds.
In the women’s race Candice Neethling rode to a largely uncontested stage victory, but despite not facing a fierce challenge from any of the female riders Neethling didn’t take it easy. She crossed the line in sixth overall in an impressive time of 3 hours 13 minutes and 53 seconds. Rounding out the ladies podium were Carmen Buchacher (03:19:01) and Nina Hind (03:40:33), with the recent Tour d'Afrique champion Katja Steenkamp finishing just two minutes behind Hind.
Pfitzenmaier will surely look to put the disappointing result of Stage 1 behind him and challenge Rebello for stage victory on the 70km second stage tomorrow. While in the ladies race Neethling and Buchacher appear too strong to be challenged but the race between Hind and Steenkamp for third could be closely contested throughout the event.
The second stage of the RECM Knysna 200 gets underway from Quinta da Montanha at 09:00 and you can follow the action on Twitter (@recmknysna200), Periscope and via live tracking on the MySOS application’s website: www.mysos.co.za.
RECM Knysna 200 Selected Results | Stage 1
1. Dylan Rebello (02:52:06)
2. Nico Pfitzenmaier (03:03:23)
3. Shan Wilson (03:05:43)
1. Candice Neethling (03:13:53)
2. Carmen Buchacher (03:19:01)
3. Nina Hind (03:40:33)