Waylon Woolcock (RE:CM) proved by winning the MTN Ride Crater Cruise on Saturday that patience and persistence pays.
Woolcock out sprinted Nico Bell (Westvaal/Bell Cycles) to win the 103km MTN Ride Crater Cruise National MTB driven by Nissan Ultra marathon in 3 hours 34 minutes and 45 seconds. A mere second later Bell raced across the line.
Bell’s team mate Gawie Combrinck (Westvaal/Bell Cycles) finished in third place in 3:37:10; John-Lee Augustyn fourth in 3:38:01 and Erik Kleinhans (RE:CM) fifth in 3:38:01.
The women’s race was won by Ariane Kleinhans (RE:CM) with Robyn de Groot (Nike Vision) second and Amy McDougall third.
Bell’s second place finish secured him the overall MTN National MTB Series win with De Groot also laying claim to the overall women’s MTN National MTB Series title with her second place.
Woolcock has been dreaming of winning the “big one” in Parys for quite a few years. Unfortunately he continuously ran out of luck at crucial moments but that did not mean that he was ever going to give up on winning the MTN Ride Crater Cruise.
“Each setback just motivated me to keep on trying as I knew I was good enough to win it. Winning the MTN Ride Crater Cruise at long last is a definite highlight. It is my first victory in the MTN National MTB Series.”
Woolcock’s victory serves as a timely notice that even though he has no sponsor for next year that he has no plans to put away his wheels for good. “I have at least another five good years of racing left in my legs. So I will carry on regardless if I have sponsor or not.”
Former Tour de France rider John-Lee Augustyn who only arrived in South Africa the day before the race launched the first major attack of the day in impressive style. The former Team Sky rider almost effortlessly bridged the gap to the early leaders on his own and took both the King of the Mountain-prime as well as a hotspot once he caught and passed them.
The second half of the race saw a very select group form at the front of the race consisting of Augustyn, two Westvaal Bell’s Cycles riders Gawie Conbrinck and Nico Bell with two RE:CM riders Erik Kleinhans and Woolcock.
According to Woolcock having a teammate away in a break was the perfect scenario for him. “I decided beforehand that I was not going to do any serious racing until the last 35 kilometres so to have Erik out in front afforded me the luxury to save my legs for a little bit longer. Erik was totally committed to help me win as he was still recovering from an injury.”
According to Bell the turning point in the race came at the last tech zone. “Gawie and I were out of water. So Gawie had to stop to get water as did John-Lee, while Waylon continued on without stopping. I had no choice but to follow.”
“I was hoping that Gawie would join up bringing me some water when he did not I realized that it is going to be battle to the end with Waylon. Over the last couple of kilometres we started to test each other with constant tit for tat attacks.”
“The mistake I made was to assume that the last few kilometres of the race would be the same as last year but it wasn’t. Waylon knew the route had changed so he made sure that he was the first to get onto the bridge leading to the finish. The moment he did that, it was race over for me as the first rider on the bridge is sure to win.
“I’m happy for Waylon he is deserved winner and I’m really happy to have won the MTN National MTB Series overall with my second place.”
The MTN Ride Crater Cruise is one of the biggest one day mountain bike events in the world and was not only the final event in the series of 8 in the MTN National MTB Series driven by Nissan, but also boasts one of the biggest prize purses. This year it attracted more than 2000 riders to the small Free State town of Parys, South Africa.