With Varsity MTB 2019 taking place as part of the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event, the title could come down to several factors across the three days.
Thanks to Varsity Sports and FNB, the top university mountain bikers from across the country will be contesting the Varsity MTB title during the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event. The midweek race, which takes place from 28-30 October, will see students from six institutions do battle. Each university will be represented by two teams of two, with a Varsity MTB champion determined after three days of racing.
The universities represented are University of Cape Town (UCT), University of Pretoria (Tuks), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Nelson Mandela University (Madibaz), North West University (NWU) and Stellenbosch University (Maties). Along with bragging rights for their varsities, the students will be competing for cash prizes and a Ciovita leaders’ jersey. The jerseys will be awarded to the Varsity MTB team with the lowest accumulated time after each stage of the race; while the stage winners will each receive R1 000, per stage. A total of R39 000 in prize money will be awarded to the teams after three days of racing, with the champion teams taking home R6 000 each.
“It looks to be a great line-up and I’m sure the whole FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage experience will be great fun!” – 2019 Around the Pot 100 Miler champion, Courtney Webb
In the absence of cycling stars like Tiffany Keep, the full-time students will have a chance to shine. Aside from the University Sports South Africa Cycling (USSA) Championships, which took place in July, many of the riders do not get the opportunity to race against each other. That makes it exceptionally difficult to pick a favourite.
UCT’s Courtney Webb is, to her fellow Western Cape cyclists at least, one of the most recognisable names in the line-up.
“I’ve heard of, or know, most of the women on the roster, but regrettably I have basically never raced against them on a mountain bike,” the 2019 Around the Pot 100 Miler champion confessed.
“If I had to guess, I would say that the Tuks women’s team is a strong partnership. But it is also so hard to say because the racing will be taking place in teams, so I can’t say confidently how these riders will perform together… I’m excited though, it looks to be a great line-up and I’m sure the whole FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage experience will be great fun!”
Webb’s pick of the women’s team to watch is the combination of Tanya Kotze and Michelle Benson. The pair placed fourth and sixth in the cross-country race at the USSA Championships, in July in Stellenbosch; either side of Webb’s fifth. None of the podium finishers from that event will start the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage though, so the Tuks pair are the slight favourites. Webb and her partner, Amy Tait are sure to be competitive for UCT however, as are the Maties pairing of Catherine Pellow-Jarmain and Susan Kruger.
Theresa le Roux
Conrad de Swardt
Marinus van Sandwyk
Varsity MTB fans can follow the action via @VarsitySportsSA on social media. The first stage starts at 07h00, from Lourensford Wine Estate, on Monday, 28 October.
Photo 1 Caption: Top university mountain bikers from across the country will be contesting the Varsity MTB title during the FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage event. The midweek race, which takes place from 28-30 October 2019, will see students from six institutions do battle. Photo: varsitysportssa.com
With editing by gsport