The inaugural Glacier Cradle Traverse mountain bike stage race concluded on Sunday, the 7th of May 2017, after three spectacular days of riding in the Muldersdrift and Cradle of Humankind area. At the sharp end of the field the Continental Tyres team of Andrew Stockwell and Dan Fowler took three stage victories to seal a comfortable victory but the real heroes of the event were the riders who slowed down and soaked up the experience.
Title sponsors, Glacier by Sanlam, and Dryland Event Management’s vision for the event is to replicate the relaxed feel-good family atmosphere of the Glacier Storms River Traverse at beautiful Avianto, a popular Gauteng wedding venue. But with the quality of the riding on offer, the Glacier Cradle Traverse was always going to be a very different event on the trails. Virtually every rider has remarked on the amazing routes, from locals like Andrew McLean and Teresa Coetzee to visitors from Bloemfontein and the Western Cape – the trails have surpassed all expectations.
“I live in the area and I was really pleasantly surprised by the trails” said Andrew McLean upon completing the final stage. “I learnt [about] lots of new trails. I mean the terrain is fairly bumpy and rocky, its real mountain biking and it made for a world class event. I would imagine we’ll see a lot more of Dryland up here because this event in a year or two’s time will be sold out and maybe even with an event aimed at the race snake because the pros will love this terrain” he concluded.
Another Gauteng local and a veteran of virtually every stage race in the country, Teresa Coetzee was excited to show off her local trails and her province. “People always have this perception that we have this concrete jungle here in Gauteng so it is amazing for me to know that people have come to the Cradle Traverse and experienced our playground. I ride here, this is my training ground; but I was so surprised to see how much more there is and all the routes I haven’t ridden yet. It makes me proud to say this is Gauteng and it’s a wonderful place to ride your bike.”
Fellow well-travelled mountain biker, Nicky Webb, was, like McLean, pleasantly surprised by the riding on offer. “When you think of Gauteng you don’t think of great mountain biking, but the riding has been amazing” the Cape Townian, riding for the iLoveBoobies charity, said.
South African track athlete and 1 500 meter record holder, Johan Cronje, made the trip up to the Glacier Cradle Traverse from Bloemfontein with his riding partner Janus Marais. “It’s new terrain for us, it’s the first time I’ve been into this part of the world and I’ve enjoyed it very much; even if the singletracks are far more technical than back home” he reflected.
Having initially faced some resistance from the local mountain biking fraternity route director Richard Beswick is confident that once word about the inaugural race gets out the Glacier Cradle Traverse routes will attract locals and visitors to Gauteng alike. “People thought the race would just feature trails they can ride at any time, but so many land owners have allowed us access to areas which are usually closed to mountain bikers that we could create a really unique and exciting route. Some of the sections might have been quite technical but the distances were purposely kept short to ensure that nobody spent too long on their bikes, but could enjoy all the other activities on offer at Avianto” he concluded.
Though the racing was not the primary focus of the event the winners were still honoured with daily prize giving’s. The men’s team category was dominated by the all-conquering Continental Tyres pair of Andrew Stockwell and Dan Fowler. While Janus Marais and Johan Cronje, riding as Zebra Sports, finished second with two second place stage finishes and a third on Stage 1 behind Andrew McLean and David de Lima – who was forced to withdraw after the first stage due to an infected cut caused by a mountain biking crash in training. The final podium position was claimed by cousins Tim Lansom and Grant Robertson in the men’s team race.
The women’s team category was won by Santie van der Westhuizen and Lousanne Ackerman, of TBC Nelspruit, after three superb stage victories. Thea Els and Madeleine Stumpf, riding as Die VIP’s finished second, and Mari and Christine Schmidt (Single Track Minds) finished third.
The mixed category was won by the Bell’s Cycling team of Vanessa Bell and Christo Carelsen, while the solo men’s race was won by Sean O’flynn-Madden and the solo women’s by Yolande de Villiers.
Stay updated on the event news, including entry information, and view all the photos from the 2017 race, by liking the Glacier Cradle Traverse Facebook page; and recap on the racing by following @CradleTraverse on Twitter. The 2018 Glacier Cradle Traverse dates are pencilled in for the 3rd to the 6th of May and you can find out more by visiting www.cradletraverse.co.za.
General Classification Results | 2017 Glacier Cradle Traverse
1. Andrew Stockwell & Dan Fowler (Continental Tyres) 06:18:19
2. Janus Marais & Johan Cronje (Zebra Sports) +01:39:17 | 07:57:36
3. Tim Lansom & Grant Robertson (Cousins) + 02:22:15 | 08:40:34
1. Santie van der Westhuizen & Lousanne Ackerman (TBC Nelspruit) 09:00:22
2. Thea Els & Madeleine Stumpf (Die VIP’s) +05:31:38 | 14:32:00
3. Mari & Christine Schmidt (Single Track Minds) + 05:49:32 | 14:49:54
1. Vanessa Bell & Christo Carelsen (Bell’s Cycling) 06:48:53
2. Estie & Mattheus Gerhardus van Heerden (Trifactri) +01:28:34 | 08:16:27
3. Wessel Pretorius& Maryke Hudson (Mountain Mojo) +02:11:12 | 08:59:05
1. Sean O’flynn-Madden 06:43:26
2. Ken Ruest +01:05:39 | 07:49:05
3. Dieter Rothman +01:08:42 | 07:52:08
1. Yolande de Villiers 06:47:33
2. Collette Bastard +01:37:10 | 08:23:43
3. Teresa Coetzee +02:59:03 | 09:46:36
To view all the results from the 2017 Glacier Cradle Traverse click here.