South Africa knows how to do MTB stage races, and the Tankwa Trek is no exception…
Sunshine, stunning scenery and savage stages!
Cherie started stage one of three with excitement, looking forward to the days ahead but mindful of the challenge in hand: stage one alone was 83km with 1850m of climbing. After four hours and twelve minutes, Cherie crossed the finish line in second place in the solo women’s category, nine minutes down on winner, Catherine Williamson, and with a six minute cushion over Christene Jansen Van Rensburg in third. Despite the tough racing Cherie’s round up of the stage was, “a great route with breathtaking scenery”!
Onto stage two. Although the time gaps in the solo women’s field were sizeable, a lot can happen over 89km and a vicious 2240m of vertical ascent! After the stage Cherie touched base with us to say, “Tough day out today. Things were going well until the last loooong climb where I faded half way up…”. With nothing left in the tank, Cherie was on damage-limitation mode and, although she lost second place overall, it was only by about two minutes. She was already determined to make it back up on the final, shorter stage.
Stage three had a long neutralised zone to begin with – theoretically a nice loosener for tired legs – and then 35km of racing on exciting new singletrack trails which carved their way through rock formations and over narrow stream-crossings. After three days of hard racing Cherie was in high spirits – “Today was fantastic. The pace was super fast from the beginning but I felt really good”. These good legs brought Cherie back up to second overall and she nearly topped it off with a stage win, just not quite being able to hold the pace towards the end of the stage.
Cherie takes away three solid days of training plus great experience and lessons learned. It’s a whole different discipline from XCO, but with this performance, Cherie is sure to be back for more stage racing!
For more information about the Tankwa Trek: http://www.tankwatrek.co.za/