Heyns and De Villiers first home

 POWER PAIR: Yolande de Villiers and Gert Heyns celebrate on the podium after winning the women’s and men’s sections at The Herald Continental Cycle Tour 80km MTB race yesterday which started and ended at the Addo Polo Club Picture: EUGENE COETZE

POWER PAIR: Yolande de Villiers and Gert Heyns celebrate on the podium after winning the women’s and men’s sections at The Herald Continental Cycle Tour 80km MTB race yesterday which started and ended at the Addo Polo Club Picture: EUGENE COETZE

GERT Heyns and Yolande de Villiers were a cut above the rest as the pair powered to victory in The Herald Continental Cycle Tour 80km mountain bike race with a field of more than 1200 riders yesterday.

An upbeat Heyns, 24, riding for Team DSV, was just too strong for his competitors, crossing the line in 2 hr 53 min and 10 sec.

He claimed the chequered flag ahead of Durban’s Andrew Hill (2.53:46) and Nicol Carstens (2.53:48) from Worcester.

“I went quite hard in the beginning to try and get away on the single track. The route was really fun, I managed to open up a gap going up through the pass, but towards the end they were chasing me all the way. But, I managed to hold out [for the win],” Heyns said.

Coming off the back of a win at the 99er Road Race in Cape Town last week, Heyns said although the field was strong, he managed to get away fairly easily in the beginning but trying to open up a considerable gap later was tough.

In the women’s section, Oudtshoorn’s De Villiers, 45, riding for Team Silverback Volvo Racing, put up a commanding performance on the course, racing to victory in a time of 3:10:27.

De Villiers finished almost 20 minutes ahead of her nearest competitor, Bay rider Anriette Schoeman, who finished in a time of 3.29:40.

Another PE rider, Siska van der Bijl, was a further three minutes behind in 3.32:12 in third.

De Villiers said: “The guys went off quite early, so I just tried to stick with them, and the ladies field was quite tough with competitors like Anriette and Ciska, but I’m happy I managed to pull through.”

De Villiers and Heyns were named king and queen of the mountain for being the first riders to make their way up the Zuurberg Pass.

Covered in cuts due to some encounters with trees along the route, Schoeman said it was a fantastic race and she hoped to be back next year.

“It was always going to be a tough race. I participated in three races before this one, so the body is a bit tired, but I’m glad about the result.”

Referring to De Villiers, Schoeman said: “She is proper class. She has an excellent CV and lining up against her. I always knew it was going to be tough.”

In the 60km race, Gerrit Rautenbach took first place ahead of Raye Moolman and Matthew Spanjaard in second and third respectively. On the women’s side, Gail Willimott was first home, with Michelle Scowby and Beth Marais claiming the final podium spots.

Continental Tyres South Africa managing director Shaun Uys said they were proud to be associated with an event of this nature.

“Cycling is one of our communication mechanisms, trying to link our Conti car tyres to our Conti bike tyres. We live in Port Elizabeth, so why not support Port Elizabeth events,” Uys said.

The Herald and Weekend Post editor Brett Horner said: “I’m grateful the public continues to support the race, especially after all the mud and rain last year, it’s very encouraging for the event and for cycling in the Bay.”

He also thanked Continental for their support and said attention now shifted to the road race on Sunday.

Amir Chetty chettyam@tisoblackstar.co.za

POWER PAIR: Yolande de Villiers and Gert Heyns celebrate on the podium after winning the women’s and men’s sections at The Herald Continental Cycle Tour 80km MTB race yesterday which started and ended at the Addo Polo Club Picture: EUGENE COETZEE