Du Toit cycles to maiden glory
Arno du Toit flew the Team DSV flag high in winning The Herald Continental Cycle Tour Mountain Bike Challenge at the Addo Polo Club on Sunday. Du Toit, racing in the absence of fellow DSV rider and defending champion Gert Heyns, finished in a time of two hours, 50 minutes and 29 seconds, as the first elite man h o m e.
He crossed the line ahead of Imbuko Giant rider Marco Joubert (2:50:30) and Nicol Carstens (2:55:33) in third. In the women’s race, Yolande de Villiers made it two wins in a row as she claimed another Herald Continental Cycle Tour Mountain Bike title, coming home in 3:04:02 – almost four minutes ahead of Sabine Spitz in second with a time of 3:07:40 and Anriette Schoeman in third in 3:19:32.
Speaking at the finish line, Du Toit said the win was the perfect result for him in what was his debut Herald Continental Cycle Tour event. “I’ve never raced here before. I have raced in the area, so I knew what to expect and my partner Gert Heyns helped me prepare mentally,” Du Toit said. “I also knew the Imbuko Giant guys had me outnumbered. They had three teammates here and it was clear from the start they were riding for him being a local boy. “He knew the trails and he had me under pressure on the single tracks too, so hats off to him on a good ride.” He said his competitors had made it hard for him in the beginning with a few attacks, but he managed to keep it steady through the Zuurberg Pass. “Halfway down the single track, Marco and I broke away. We had a nice big gap.
They could have made it a lot easier for Marco. “When Nicol and the other Giant riders backed off, I didn’t need to race that hard. He kept following my wheel, but if they had pushed harder from the back I would have had to ride harder in front. “So I could keep it steady and knew I had a good sprint, taking it to the line with co n f i d e n ce. ” Du Toit said he knew he had to try and cover every move made by his opponents. “With three riders on a flat route towards the end, if one rider had a gap, they could have forced me to do the work by myself, which happened. “But I was in the front by then, so I just had to cover all their moves and try to stay as fresh as possible to the end.”
Meanwhile, De Villiers said the route was quite flat with the climbs happening mainly in the first third of the race. “The guys in front made a bit of a gap and I was happy to go with them. Shortly thereafter, we lost Sabine. From there I just kept a steady pace and was happy to take the wi n , ” she said. “It ’s fantastic single track. The first section is open road, and then you climb Zuurberg Pass and from there it’s lots of single track over bridges, sharp turns, loose rocky climbs – ve r y beautiful.” Asked about her game plan, De Villiers said: “Due to the flattish nature of the course, I decided to go as hard as possible from the start. Luckily, I managed to get a gap over Sabine and managed to maintain that.”